Basic Risotto

Basic Risotto

After taking it easy the last couple of days and sleeping for twelve straight hours last night (seriously!), I am finally starting to feel like a normal human being since catching this cold! My husband and I are trying out CrossFit starting this afternoon so hopefully I can sweat out what’s left and be back to business as usual for the rest of the week! A few months ago I did a post for Champagne Risotto and after making it then for the first time, we have made probably a dozen different versions of risotto. That recipe was for a two person serving so I thought it might be helpful to share a basic risotto which serves a larger group (4-6) and can serve as the base for just about any kind of risotto you like. Add in whatever vegetables are in season and you can easily make this your go-to recipe for all year round! 

While risotto isn’t hard to make, it is a dish that you have to be present for most of the cooking… it’s not a “set-it-and-forget-it” kind of thing. Keeping that in mind, I like to prep everything that will be going in to my risotto ahead of time and keep it right next to the stove. You’ll need 2-3 tbsp unsalted butter, 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (I use one that’s infused with garlic), 1 diced small onion, 2-3 minced garlic cloves, 2 cups arborio rice, 1/2 cup dry white wine, 6-8 cups vegetable or chicken stock (I always use our homemade stocks… use vegetable to keep this dish vegetarian), 1 cup grated parmesan cheese and 1 cup any vegetable (I used peas here which are perfect for spring). Keep your stock warm in a saucepan over low heat, it should be just steaming by the time you start the risotto. I like to put the peas in a strainer and drop it into the stock just for a couple of minutes at this point to soften them slightly, then I set them aside. 

In a high-sided sauté pan, heat 1 tbsp of the butter and your olive oil over medium high heat. Add in the onion and cook until translucent and beginning to break down and then add in the garlic (1). Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in the rice and stir well to make sure every grain is coated in butter and oil (2). Continue stirring until the edges of the rice have turned translucent but the center is still opaque, you should also be able to smell the aroma of toasted rice. Now it’s time to deglaze the pan, which is optional, and if you don’t want to use wine in this dish you can skip this step. Pour in the wine and use your spatula to scrape up any brown bits that are sticking to the bottom of the pan and continue to cook until all the liquid has evaporated (3). Now you’re going to start adding in your broth incrementally one ladle full at a time. Pour in your first ladle (4) and cook, stirring continuously, until the liquid has almost evaporated completely. This gradual addition of liquid is key to getting the rice to release its starch which will make it’s own sauce so you can’t rush this part. Continue adding your stock, keeping in mind that you may not need all 8 cups of it… you want just enough to cook the rice and no more. Start tasting the rice at 12 minutes… it is ready when it’s al dente (still has a bit of chew) and has the consistency of a thick porridge. If you run your spatula through the risotto and it starts to slowly fill in that space, then you’re good to go (the Italians say risotto should be “la onda” which is a wave that slowly rolls in to the shore). The final step of the risotto is to add one more ladle full of broth, the remainder of the butter and the cheese to make it extra creamy (5). Stir in your vegetable (if using) (6).

basic risotto how-to

You want to serve risotto immediately, as the longer it sits the more starch will be released and it will lose its silkiness. This particular time we made it, we pan fried some chicken cutlets and served it over the risotto.

risotto with chicken