It never ceases to amaze me that rice is one of the most versatile vehicles in which to convey flavor, texture and even aroma, yet it is so simple to prepare. If one can evolve from “one-minute cooked rice” or even the pre-cooked rice that is frozen and only requires to be steamed in a bag, there are more varieties and ways to prepare rice then there is time to experiment. One of the great things about the world becoming smaller, the internet and grocery stores providing more variety is that the ability to learn and try new foods and flavors has become that much easier.
Risotto is prepared using a high starch, low-amylose (unimportant) short to medium grain rice. There are several varieties cultivated in Italy, but the most widely available variety in the United States is Arborio. Risotto is a classic Italian style dish where the rice has been cooked in broth to a creamy consistency. Purists would content that there are only one of a few ways to prepare Risotto. Fine, let them state what they will. All I know is that Risotto is a wonderful means in which to incorporate ingredients into a rice dish that is flavorful, creamy and can either be eaten by itself or as a part of a larger meal.
The most important thing to remember about Risotto is that it is not difficult to prepare. If anything, it is very easy and very forgiving to even hacks likes myself in the kitchen.
- 1 Cup of Arborio Rice
- 2 TBSP of Butter
- 2 TBSP of Olive Oil
- 1/2 Cup of chopped Onion (White or Yellow)
- 3 Cups of Chicken or Vegetable Broth
- 1/2 Cup of diced Asiago cheese (can also use grated Romano or Parmesan)
- 12 Oz. container of sliced Portabella Mushrooms (honestly, use whatever you desire, but must be fresh)
- Black Pepper & Salt to taste
- Turn on stove to Medium to Medium-High
- Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large enough pot.
- Add the chopped onions and saute for three minutes
- Add the rice and stir for two minutes
- Add the first cup of broth, stirring until all the liquid has been absorbed
- Add the second cup of broth, stirring until all the liquid has been absorbed
- Add the third cup of broth, stirring until all of the liquid has been absorbed
- Note on stirring. Purists would say that you have to constantly stir to create that unique creamy texture. They may be right, but who has the time to stir constantly for 20 to 30 minutes? Suggestion: Go low and slow on the heat (Medium) and stir the rice every few minutes between other activities in the kitchen
- Once most of the liquid has been absorbed, add the sliced mushrooms, cheese and black pepper (optional). Ensure that all of the ingredients are incorporated throughout the rice
- At this point I turn off the stove, cover the pot and prepare the rest of the meal. The heat within the pot will continue to cook the rice and keep it warm / hot until you are ready to serve. Typically, letting the Risotto sit for 20 minutes is good to ensure all of the liquids including the moisture from the mushrooms has been absorbed by the rice.
- About 5 minutes before you are ready to serve, check the Risotto for tenderness, liquid absorption and seasoning. If the rice is harder then you prefer add more broth (a little water), turn on the stove and cook for a few more minutes. If salt is needed, then add enough to flavor it to the level you desire.
Total Prep & Cook Time: 60 Minutes
Risotto can be served as a meal by itself (big and hearty), or as a side dish to the meal. I personally enjoy Risotto with baked fish and steamed vegetables such as broccoli, broccolini or broccoli rabe tossed with olive oil, salt and black pepper.
Risotto by itself with no other ingredients except onions, salt and black pepper is just as nice. What makes Risotto so enjoyable is that it is extremely versatile allowing different broths, vegetables and even meats to be incorporated into the dish.