Risotto – delicious rice dish with abundant options for flavor and ad-ins
I have heard some people intimidated by the idea of making Risotto. It’s quite simple and a nice alternative to plain rice or other sides. You can flavor it in many ways. The most popular (and what I featured in this post) is mushroom. I served it with a grilled pork chop and grilled courgette (zucchini).
Risotto isn’t a recipe as much as it is a method. Once you follow the method it all falls into place very easily. Most importantly, you must use Arborio rice. Nothing else will do – it’s the nature of the short grain/high starch nature it has which makes it just the right tenderness that defines risotto. Follow the basic steps below and you’ll love the results.
- Start with approx. 1/4 cup rice per serving. Rinse and drain well.
- Have ready your liquid of choice. Chicken Stock is the best choice, you can also add a small amount of white wine with it which is wonderful. Try to use something that has some flavor. The liquid should be room temperature or slightly chilled. You’ll need somewhere around a cup for each 1/4 of rice.
- Add a small amount of butter (or olive oil which is more traditional but I think butter makes it more creamy) to a pan over medium heat
- Ad the rice and stir, cooking until the rice changes from white to opaque. This will take just a couple of minutes.
- Add your base flavorings (see ideas below) and cook a few minutes more.
Now the key – adding the liquid. The method is to add a small ladle full first. Stir and let the rice completely absorb the liquid. Then another ladle full. Again, stir and let the liquid be completely absorbed. Repeat for several times. Then you can gradually add a little more each time, but make sure to let the rice pick up all the liquid before adding more. Continue this add-liquid-let-absorb method until the rice becomes tender to your liking and serve (optionally top with a little shredded parmesan cheese).
Ideas on base flavorings for Risotto
- Mushroom is the typical choice. In the version I made I used a combination of Portobello and dried Shiitake which I reconstituted in warm water then drained and rinsed, chopping all mushrooms into small pieces.
- Baby spinach and asparagus or peas
- Cheddar cheese and spring onion (green onion)
- Saffron (if you can afford it)
Experiment with anything you want – rice is neutral in favor so will accept anything. And if you use water/wine/vegetable stock instead of chicken stock you can easily make this vegan as well.
To turn into a Main
To make the Risotto a main dish, add things such as cooked Shrimp, Chicken, Oysters – anything that sounds good and this can be a dinner in and of itself.