Risotto is a staple northern Italian dish obtained by toasting the rice in the pan and then slowly adding liquid and mixing until absorbed, for as long as the rice takes to cook. Even though the recipe requires constant stirring, the procedure is very easy and guaranteed to produce perfect results as long as the rice is kept at a constant boiling temperature for the correct amount of time.
This recipe serves two hungry people, or three not so much. It takes about 25 minutes from start to finish.
- 1 cup of Carnaroli Rice (Arborio as a second choice)
- 3 ½ cups of vegetable or beef stock
- One handful of dried or fresh Porcini mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon of chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 1 glass of white wine (best if at room temperature)
- ¼ cup of Parmigiano cheese (grated)
- Some ground black pepper
- (Recommended) 1 pouch of Italian saffron
- (Optional) 1 green onion or a bunch of chives
- Bring the stock to a gentle boil (ensure the stock is flavorful, but not too salty).
- If using dried mushrooms, wash them well under tap water and then soak them for 5-10 minutes in lukewarm water to rehydrate them. Let any grit sediment settle to the bottom, pick up the mushrooms leaving the dirty water in the bowl.
- In a second pan, sauté the onion in 2/3 of the butter until soft and translucent.
- Add the rice and stir at medium heat for a couple of minutes (this will "toast" the rice, adding flavor).
- Add the wine and set the timer: 18 minutes if using Carnaroli, 15 minutes if using Arborio.
- Add the re-hydrated or fresh mushrooms.
- Keep stirring. When the rice dries out a bit, add some stock and go back to stirring. (Note: it might be necessary to lower the temperature, but make sure the rice keeps boiling, and so does the stock.)
- 3-4 minutes from being ready, add the saffron (dissolved in a tablespoon of stock).
- When the time is up, turn off the heat, move the pan off the burner and add the remaining butter. Keep stirring for 1 additional minute. At this point the Risotto should be creamy and soft, and without any liquid running around.
- Serve in bowls covered with the grated Parmigiano, some ground black pepper and (optionally) garnished with fresh thin-sliced green onion or chives.
- Eat immediately, as this dish absolutely can't be reheated.
Other than mushrooms, many other ingredients can be added as flavors (some of the most common are: leek, artichokes, asparagus, radicchio, Taleggio, Gorgonzola, seafood, sausage).
Even though the flavors are important, Risottos (or Risotti in Italian) are as much about the rice as they are about the add-ons. The particular type of rice and the gradual hydration while stirring constantly is what extracts the starch and gives creaminess and texture to the dish. Using the wrong type of rice or a different cooking technique can completely ruin the result.