Risotto is a delicacy that, if attended to and given a little extra love, will stand alone as an incredibly satisfying, stick-to-your-ribs meal. It can, also, take any meat or seafood dish to a restaurant-quality level. Simple rice dishes like this can often be thought of as “peasant food”, but this humble delight transcends us to hearty feelings of home and family. Each creamy bite is like a warm hug settling in for a cozy night—tucking you into comfort.
Serves 2 as an entree or 3 – 4 as a side
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 small onion (or 1 whole shallot) finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
1/4 cup of white wine (use something you like to drink)
5 cups of a good quality stock (veggie, beef, chicken, or seafood stock could be used depending on what you’re serving it with or what type of risotto you want)
2 tbs butter
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano (plus more to garnish)
**Technique is key in executing good risotto. Through trial and error, we finally feel that this recipe is foolproof. Please consider the size of the pots and pans, the technique when stirring, and the timing of everything, for optimal results.
Warm stock in a large sauce pan.
Heat a wide, shallow skillet over medium heat with enough olive oil to thinly coat the bottom of the pan.
**Avoid using a deep pot. We used to use a large stock pot when making risotto, but this results in a stodgier rice. If you use a large skillet (the largest one you have–we use a 15 inch cast iron skillet), the risotto will cook in a single layer which will allow the starches to come out, thicken your risotto, making it creamy, but not stodgy or clumpy.
When your pan is hot, add onions and garlic. Sweat them until they’re translucent but not browned. Add your rice. You want to toast the rice in with the garlic and onions for a few minutes until little toasty, brown spots appear. This will add to the nutty, deep flavor in your final product.
After the rice is toasted, add the white wine. This will deglaze the pan, allowing for the small yummy bits stuck to the bottom to release and join the rest of the party. Yummy brown bits mean FLAVOR! Cook the wine and allow to simmer until the liquid has reduced by half.
Add a ladle of stock. Continuously stir the liquid throughout the rice gently to not damage or break the rice. You want creamy rice with each grain still holding its integrity. Because you’re using a wide pan, keep the liquid from settling in the sides of the pan by continuously folding it into the rice, keeping the rice and liquid in the center of the pan where it’s directly over the heat. Shake the pan using the handle to spread the rice into a single layer. Allow the risotto to bubble slightly. Go back to stirring. Shake the pan to create a single layer. Go back to stirring. Continue this methodic movement until all the liquid has been absorbed into the rice. Add another ladle of stock.
Repeat these steps until the rice is cooked, the risotto has nearly doubled in size, and the starches have created a creamy consistency (about 30 to 45 minutes).
**If you’re using a gas stove, you’ll have consistent heat throughout your cooking. Keep an eye on the flame. You want your rice simmering, but not boiling. If you’re using an electric stove, you might need to adjust the temperature your stove is set on to keep a consistent and constant heat on your rice.
Season the risotto with salt to taste. Finish your risotto with the butter and parmigiano reggiano. Stir together to fully incorporate. The end result should be a creamy, glossy, plump risotto. Garnish with more parmigiano reggiano (if the risotto is NOT being served with seafood–we don’t put cheese on our seafood).
**This recipe is a blank canvas to which you can allow your imagination to go wild. Use it as a template to build on. Sauté mushrooms in a separate skillet with butter and thyme and use a mushroom stock to create a beautiful mushroom risotto, add saffron and mascarpone cheese for a vivacious and colorful risotto, use seafood stock and top with seared scallops as another elegant option—there are a million ways to mix and match this classic recipe to tailor to any theme.