The key to making risotto… without dying of boredom
Risotto is often seen as one of those dishes that’s difficult to make.
It’s seen as a bit fussy and time-consuming.
And it’s true to some degree.
The tedium and monotony of stir, ladle, stir, stir, ladle, stir, ladle, (is it done yet?), stir, ladle…
Can push you to the edge of your patience and boredom levels.
But it’s exactly that, that is needed – patience.
Although, true Italians say it’s only about 18 – 19 mins of key stirring to get the perfect risotto made.
But we can forget the exact timings.
It’s better do go by taste and texture than precise timings.
Plus, if you go over a little, who cares?
Over is better than under, no one wants to bite into a hard grain of rice.
The epitome of comfort food
Risotto isn’t difficult.
And you can pretty much add whatever ingredients you have lying around in your fridge.
So that makes it a good dish to master.
And it’s a satisfying, comforting meal for the family.
So, with a little patience and following some simple steps, you can nail a risotto in under 30 mins.
Put some good tunes on in the kitchen and get into the ‘stir-ladle-stir-ladle’ zone.
Choosing the best rice
Like a lot of cooking, you can get carried away with the perfect ingredient.
Which can often put you off even bothering to cook a recipe.
But choosing the right rice can take you risotto to a new level of creaminess.
It’s the starch that gives risotto that creamy texture.
Top three risotto rice
I put this one first as it’s the easiest to find and still a great rice for risotto.
But technically it’s not the best of the three (that goes to carnaroli rice).
Because it’s not quite as starchy and you can over-cook it (but I couldn’t get too worried about that)
The ‘king’ of risotto rice.
This is the favourite for flavour, creaminess, texture and it’s also harder to overcook.
Vialone nano rice
Usually harder to find.
It has a high starch content which makes a lovely creamy, silky risotto and also cooks faster than carnaroli.
Width and grain
Often the risotto rice packets have superfino, semifino, and fino on them.
This isn’t to do with quality, just the width of the grains.
Basic risotto technique
The basics of all risotto’s include the ingredients no.1 – 5 (and no. 7).
Then it’s up to you what you want to add.
I’ve taken some inspiration from a River Cafe recipe.
- 1 litre chicken stock (fresh if possible), warming on low heat on the hob
- 2 spring onions or 1 onion
- 50g butter
- 200g carnaroli rice or arborio
- ½ glass white wine
- 200g fresh or frozen peas
- parmesan 50g, grated
- 5 leaves mint, shredded
- 75g prosciutto, chopped (or you could use bacon or lardons but you’d add these in Step 2)
- Fry the spring onions (or onion) gently in 50 g of butter until soft.
- (*add your bacon or lardons, if you’re not doing prosciutto, now and cook)
- Add the rice and stir coating the grains with the butter, on a low heat for 5 minutes or so until the rice has turned slightly translucent (hold your nerve hear but don’t let the rice brown).
- Add the wine (it will sizzle), turn up the heat and add 1 ladle of stock and the peas.
- Continue gradually adding stock (*you don’t need to wait for the stock to be completely absorbed before adding the next ladle), stirring constantly
- (Try not to die of boredom…)
- (…you may die of boredom)
- Within about 20 mins, your rice be soft but still has a bite. You may need more than a little of stock if you think it needs a bit more time.
- Once you are happy with it, add the Parmesan, mint, another small knob of butter and the prosciutto (if you didn’t do bacon or lardons in Step 2) and stir until smooth and creamy.
- Serve and let your arm rest!
Risotto combo ideas
- Chicken and butter
- Smoked ham hock
- Chicken with beans and kale
- Sausage, radicchio
Do you have a favourite risotto recipe? Leave a comment, below.