Cooking to Impress – Basic Risotto – The Rose on Fire

Joy of cooking risotto recipe


I’ve been a bad blogger. I’ve been having a simultaneously very lazy and very busy summer and one of the things I’ve been lazy about is staying here. I haven’t been doing anything very exciting in the kitchen either, so it could be a contributing factor, but mostly I’ve been lazy when posting.

This post is actually about a meal I made in early May, but, unless you live in one of the places in America where you closed your kitchen for three months due to heat exposure, it applies year-round.

Look, for me, risotto is another one of those foods that are my favorite type of food to make. It is both comforting and luxurious, homely and foreign, and impressive yet exceptionally simple to prepare. Risotto is also a very sexy food, the first time I made risotto was to impress a date. When I feel like it, I still make a bad risotto, and even if I’m just impressed, I’m worth it.

The most important thing to remember about risotto is to keep stirring so it doesn’t stick. Risotto is infinitely adaptable. In the past I’ve made rosé risotto with leftover red wine and lamb, and as I was writing this I thought I’d try an autumn risotto with chicken, apples and a sweeter white wine. As long as you factor in allium (onion/leek), sour (wine/lemon juice; you may have used tomato juice and a little vinegar in the past), broth (to be really traditional, add saffron to the warming broth), and grain (this technique can be applied to almost any whole grain) everything else is up to the imagination.

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Joy of Cooking basic risotto recipe for the simplest risotto (Risotto In Bianco) with notes for adaptation and additions.

1-2 tablespoons butter or olive oil (or combination), plus 1/2 tablespoon butter to finish1/2 medium onion, diced or 2 small leeks, cut into thin 1/8″ crescents, chicken or vegetables1 cup Italian white rice or standard medium-grain white rice1/4 dry white wine or lemon juice1/3-1/2 cup grated Parmesan

cheese and pepper to taste

Optional: 1-2 cups chopped, seasonal vegetables, cooked meat or seafood (great use for leftovers), extra cheese (great use for the odds and ends left in the fridge), chopped herbs or nuts

1) Heat the butter or oil in a large, heavy skillet and soften the onions or leeks. The sauce or pans work, I like to use a deep 10″ pan with curved sides (like a pseudo wok).

2) Heat the broth over low heat and set aside.

3) To the butter/onion combination, add the rice and cook over medium heat. Stir continuously until the rice becomes translucent and you can see a white spot in the center or the rice.

4) When the rice is ready, add the wine and continue stirring. If you use lemon juice, reserve until after adding the broth.

5) Continuing to stir, start adding broth about one cup at a time. Wait until all the liquid is absorbed before adding the next cup. After the first three cups, add the last of the 1/4 cup at a time. The rice is ready when you still have a small tooth. (This will take about 20 minutes)

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6) If you add lemon juice, stir now and let it absorb briefly. Add the butter and Parmesan cheese. Add other additions now too and season to taste.

Notes on seasonal vegetables*:P rimavera: parboiled/shelled favas, asparagus, spinach, peas; Summer: basil, corn, tomatoes, pumpkin, green beans; Autumn: hard pumpkin, mushrooms, sweet potatoes; Winter: kale, leeks, Brussels sprouts

*Depending on the vegetable, items may need to be pre-cooked before being added to risotto. Prepared peas or favas can be added without further preparation, asparagus / may need to be steamed or sautéed depending on the size of the pieces and the thickness of the stems, hard pumpkins should be cooked until soft. Some or all of the more filling vegetables can be cooked with risotto instead of added at the end.

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