My husband is obsessed with risotto. The spark for his passion was kindled with a mushroom risotto at a restaurant in Venice, Italy called Da Fiore. If he could have licked the plate that first night he would have. All of their food is swoon worthy and we’ve been back several times over the years.
One of my favorite restaurant/cooking experiences happened at Da Fiore as well. Mara, owner and chef extraordinaire, let me into her kitchen to watch as she prepared a plate of mushroom risotto. There was no cheating here – she didn’t pull out rice that had been cooked prior to serving, it was all scratch. This is why their food is so amazing.
So what did I glean from this event? Don’t tamper with the method! I know everyone dreads risotto because of the standing and stirring, but there is a reason that it’s been done this way for centuries and it does work (I like to have my glass of wine handy while I stir).
The theory is that the constant scuffing against each other slowly releases the starch into the liquid, creating it’s own sauce. Also, pick the correct type of rice (arborio is easiest to find but I like bomba which is used in paella as well), and use lightly salted stock that’s (hopefully) homemade and already simmering on the stovetop. I use vegetable stock made from kitchen scraps, but you can do a fish stock or chicken too. The reason this part is so crucial is that you’re concentrating the flavors of that stock in the rice through evaporation – so it better be good. And don’t forget to use good wine for that first liquid addition. If you wouldn’t want to drink it – why would you cook with it?
- 2 Cups Arborio or Bomba rice
- At least 5 cups Stock (Vegetable, fish, chicken)
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- dash olive oil
- salt & pepper
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (freshly grated)
- 1 Glassful white wine (and more to refill your glass)
|In a large, flat bottomed pan melt your butter and add your glug of olive oil on a medium flame.|
|Add your rice and toast away for a minute or two.|
|Add the glass of white wine and start stirring your rice. Stir until it's absorbed and then start adding a ladle full of stock. Allow each ladle full to absorb before you add the next. Add until there's just a bit of toothiness left in the rice.|
|Turn the flame off and add your cheese. That's it. You'll be stirring for about 20 minutes. Not bad really.|
Remember this is the base. You can add virtually anything to risotto. I generally do vegetarian additions such as mushrooms, peas & asparagus or tomato but I’ve also been branching in to shrimp. It’s all great and generally fast.
My tips to streamline your process is to do the prep ahead of time. Have your stock already warmed and ready to go. Have the ladle ready. Grate your cheese and have it waiting on the side. If you’re adding vegetables have them chopped and ready to go. Set the table and light the candle. It makes dinner so much easier and the process of standing and stirring enjoyable.
I hope you try this recipe and add it to your dinner rotation. Thanks as always for reading EG! Happy weekend!