Well I'm not so snap out of it!
Risotto is nothing to be scared of. In fact it is something to love. And a great recipe to have in your back pocket. Why is that? Because it is like a blank canvas on the road to flava town. Add anything you want to it and I guarantee it will taste great. The worst part about it though is that it takes a long time (in a student's world 45-1 hr means 3 chapters read or 2 tv episodes watched online). And you can't set it and forget it.
And as you know, my philosophy with cooking is to make something with the lowest price but has the greatest impact (whether it is quantity or fanciness). So master this technique and you can impress the pants off of anyone.
First to know... risotto is a STYLE of cooking something (mostly rice). A technique if you may, of adding a liquid to a grain to get a creamy consistency. You can make risotto with many different grains such as barley for example, but it is typically made with rice. The rice used in typical risotto is ABORIO rice.
This is a very common misconception. But all cleared up now thank you.
Let me take you step by step to a non professional chef's version (aka. ME).
For basic plain risotto:
- 1 1/2 cup Aborio rice (first timers, use this kind, once you get better you can experiment with different types)
- 4 cups of liquid (honestly stock - chicken or veg - really makes a difference in flavour, but we are on a budget so I understand if you need to use water. Or at least to half and half)
- 1 small onion (or shallot)
- 4 Tbsp of butter
- 1/2 cup of dry white wine (I know..$$$ but you can omit this... but then you have to use stock! trust me)
- 1/2 cup of parm cheese
- Salt and pepper
Have everything ready before you start cooking. Meaning you will need a large saucepan/pot for your risotto and you will need a large pot to heat up your liquid. This is extremely important because you will be adding the liquid to the rice throughout the process. And you add HOT LIQUID to a HOT PAN or else...something something... think about it.
Chop up you onion finely as well.
Over medium heat in a sauce pan/pot melt 2 Tbsp of butter and saute onion until translucent. Not until burnt. and the onions have soaked up the buttery goodness. For approx. 5-8 minutes.
Add aborio rice and toss around until the actual rice begins to change colour, slightly golden. We are toasting the rice, adds excellent flavour. Approx. another 8 minutes. Stir constantly and keep a close eye on it.
Add the dry white wine. Sizzle sizzle. Stir and allow the alcohol to cook out and the liquid disappear. Approx. 3-5 minutes.
Now the fun start happens. Add the hot broth one ladle at a time. You add a ladle of broth to the risotto, stir the risotto until the liquid has been sucked up by the rice and then you add some more broth. Now you don't have to stir so much that your arms falls off, because you don't want to over work it, but you do need to give it some love. So don't go sit on the couch and watch tv, that will be neglecting it. This whole process will take the longest, approximately 30 minutes and the risotto will now have doubled in size.
Once you have approx. 2 ladles of liquid left, this is when you would add you "other" ingredients (mushrooms, peas, asparagus, etc). Taste the risotto, get a feel for the texture. Some people really like it al dente (a bit of a crunch) - actually this is the traditional way to eat it. But I don't like it. So I keep going a bit (I don't like mush though..so do not over cook it) but I may even have to add a bit of water if I run out of stock. Just TASTE IT, you will know when you like it.
Add the parm cheese and the remaining butter and give it a final stir. Glossy, buttery, cheesy goodness.
CONGRATS! YOU JUST MADE RISOTTO! See! It wasn't THAT bad. Just took a lot of time right? But now you have just unleashed a beast.
Stay tuned for my Lemon, Asparagus, Pea and Goat Cheese Risotto