Risotto is hearty, classic Italian comfort food. In its simplest form, risotto is made with Arborio, carnaroli or another short-grain rice, shallots or onions, stock or broth, white wine, olive oil, Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper. The beauty of risotto is its adaptability: There are endless combinations of meats, vegetables, seafood and spices you can add, making the dish either mild or loaded with flavor, depending on your taste.
Risotto is easy to make, but there are some tips and tricks that will make or break the dish. First, you need a deep saucepan with straight sides to hold all the liquid and rice. Next, heat olive oil in the pan and add onions, sautéing them until just translucent. Then add the rice and fry it in the oil for just a minute or so. Next, add wine to the rice and oil. After the wine has evaporated (which will happen fast due to the high heat of the pan), start adding your broth.
This part is crucial to making a successful risotto -- the broth or stock you're using to cook the rice should be hot and added gradually to the rice mixture. This ensures the rice will cook slowly and release its starch, creating a creamy texture. You also have to stir the rice and broth frequently so the grains cook evenly. If done properly, risotto will take about 30 minutes to cook. Be prepared to eat right away though, because this dish can't be made in advance and should be served immediately. And while it may sound complicated, cooking risotto doesn't take much effort beyond stirring.
Hungry now? Here's an easy veggie risotto recipe to try. Mangia!