Righteous risottos

Cynthia
Cynthia Stone
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

If you’re a cooking show fan, then you know there isn’t a TV chef who does not have his or her favourite risotto recipe. Go to any fancy restaurant and you’ll have at least two to pick from.

And yet, so many home cooks are nervous about trying it themselves.

Risotto is not difficult to mak e— difficult to perfect so people will spend lots of money on it, maybe, but not difficult to make.

First, pick the right type of rice. There are some cooks brave enough to try this with long-grain, but the most reliable option is short-grain, and the one I like best is Italian Arborio.

Second, be patient. No matter how you go about it, it’s going to take at least 20 minutes.

Finally, watch the salt. Broth has lots in it and so does cheese, so don’t add any more until you taste it at the very end.

It’s hard to include a serving count on these recipes because some use risotto as a first course or a side dish, but I happily serve it all by itself with a piece of crusty bread and a glass of wine. I would allow at least 1/4 to 1/3 cup uncooked rice per person.

Original Risotto

Here is the original Italian risotto that started the craze.

1 large onion, finely diced

2 tbsp. olive oil

1-1/2 cups Arborio or another

short-grain rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

4 cups hot chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 tsp. freshly grated black pepper

2 tbsp. soft unsalted butter

2 cups hot fresh green vegetables such as peas or asparagus tips (optional)

Fry onion in oil until it starts to soften slightly. Add rice and cook 5 minutes or until it turns chalky, then translucent — don’t let the onion brown. Add wine and simmer until most of the liquid evaporates. Add enough broth to just cover the rice and simmer, stirring, until most of it evaporates. Continue until all the stock is used — total cooking time is about 18 to 20 minutes. You don’t have to stir every second but stay close to the stove and stir often. If the rice is still too hard for your taste but all the stock is used add small amounts of boiling water — be careful not to cook it to mush. Add Parmesan, pepper, and butter and stir until all is melted together. Add veggies (they should be hot), taste for salt, and serve at once.

Turnip and Greens Risotto

Here’s the one to use up leftover Sunday dinner. Any cooked greens will do, including spinach and even cabbage.

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. soft unsalted butter (divided)

1-1/3 cups Arborio or other short-grain rice

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups hot chicken broth

1/4 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper (or white pepper if you prefer)

1 cup cooked turnip, diced

1 cup cooked turnip greens of Swiss chard, finely chopped

1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Fry onion in oil and about half the butter until it is starting to soften but is not brown. Add rice and cook until rice becomes chalky, then translucent. Stir in garlic and cook another minute. Add enough of the broth to just cover rice and bring barely to a simmer, stirring. Continue to add broth in small amounts, stirring frequently, until it is all used up. If rice is not tender, add a little boiling water but be careful not to make it too soupy. Heat turnip and greens in the microwave until hot, then stir into rice, along with lemon zest, balsamic vinegar, parsley, Parmesan and remaining 1 tbsp. butter; stir until melted and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Mushroom Risotto

This one is my favourite, but then I’m a die-hard mushroom fan. I’m also quite happy without the Parmesan, but some folks don’t think it’s risotto without it so … up to you.

1 small bag dried porcini (or other) mushrooms

1 cup boiling water

3 cups mixed fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 medium onion, minced

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. soft unsalted butter (divided)

3 cups mixed fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 medium onion, minced

1-1/2 cups Arborio rice

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 tsp. minced fresh thyme

1/2 cup dry white wine, not cold

1 sprig fresh rosemary

4 cups hot chicken broth

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Soak dried mushrooms in boiling water. Strain, reserving water, and finely mince the mushrooms. If there’s any grit in the soaking water, strain it through a coffee filter or pour off the water slowly, leaving the sandy bits behind. In a large pot, add mushrooms and onion to hot oil and about half the butter. Cook until mushrooms are golden, have released their moisture and it evaporates. Add rice and cook until it is translucent. Stir in garlic and fry another minute. Add thyme and wine and cook until most of the liquid evaporates. Add rosemary and reconstituted dried mushrooms along with their soaking water. Add enough of the broth to just cover rice. Simmer, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid evaporates, then repeat until all the broth has been added. Taste the rice and if it is still too firm add a little boiling water and continue to cook until done. Total cooking time should be about 20 minutes. Stir in pepper, parsley, Parmesan and remaining

1 tbsp. of butter and serve immediately.

 

Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, N.L., A1E 4N1.

Organizations: The Telegram

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • THERESA CULLEN
    March 02, 2011 - 06:46

    Hi, I read your column all the time and enjoy it. Maybe a little to much, which brings me to the reason why I am writing. I am ready to loose a few lbs. I used to do a HOT DOG diet many moons ago, I can't seem to find it anywhere. Would you happen to know that one? I would appreciate it if you could send it to me. THERESA