If you think a rich, hearty and warming risotto is available only in a restaurant, think again. Risotto is surprisingly easy to make, and full of flavorful possibilities. On a cold winter night, a bowl of risotto is welcome comfort food for the whole family.
Risotto is deliciously versatile
At our house we make risotto every couple of weeks. We’ve made it with carrots, asparagus, artichoke hearts, wild mushrooms, peas and prosciutto, and sausage. We’ve probably never made it the same way twice! Sometimes we might add some wine for extra flavor, or cream or cheese – and sometimes not. It just depends on what we feel like that night. It can be a great last minute meal, using up bits in the fridge. Paired with a fresh green salad, it also becomes an elegant meal for guests.
Essential techniques for risotto
The main technique you need to learn for risotto is patience – patience for a ladleful of stock to mostly absorb before you stir in more stock. And contrary to popular belief, you do not have to stir constantly – just regularly. After pouring in some stock, give the rice a couple of good stirs and you can walk away for a minute or two – but only a minute or two.
Additions and variations to basic risotto
Basic risotto is nice but can get mundane time and time again. To make risotto an always exciting dish, try one of the following variations:
- Puree four carrots in 3/4 cup of white wine and add that in before the rice. Similarly add steamed and pureed squash, cauliflower or celery root.
- Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of wine before adding the rice for a flavor boost.
- Steam asparagus or artichoke hearts and add before the rice along with some of the flavorful steaming liquid with the first ladlefuls of stock. Likewise, soak dried mushrooms and add the soaking liquid.
- Saute fresh sausage with the onion before adding the rice, and add 1/2 cup red wine with the first ladleful of stock.
- When the risotto is almost done, stir in a handful of a complementary shredded cheese.
- Finish off the risotto with a couple of tablespoons of cream.
If you have never made risotto before, this is an easy recipe to master.
6-1/2 cups stock (beef, chicken, or vegetable)
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups arborio rice
1. In a saucepan over low heat, bring the stock to a simmer. In a larger heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the chopped onion and lightly saute about 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Add in the rice and stir to coat the grains. Add in 2 ladlefuls of stock and stir several times. Over the course of a minute or two, the liquid will start to be absorbed. You can turn the heat down if the rice begins to stick.
3. Add in another ladleful of stock and stir. Repeat this step, adding stock and stirring, until the rice becomes very tender and creamy. It will take 15 to 20 minutes and you will use up most or all of the stock. Serve hot garnished with shredded cheese or fresh herbs.