I used to think Risotto was a magical dish best left up to professionals, boy was I wrong! it's easy to make and it's a blank canvas to carry many different flavor profiles. If you know how to make risotto you can truly make some fantastic one pot meals, OK really it takes 2 pots to make a good risotto dish.
Arborio rice is the main ingredient in risotto. It's a short grain rice that is known for its high starch content which provides the creaminess associated with risotto. The only way to bring out this creaminess is to cook it slowly by adding liquid a little bit at a time. Arborio rice was once exclusively grown in Italy it is now grown here in the U.S. Although Arborio rice is best for risotto, you can also substitute other short grain rices but you might have to enhance the creaminess with another agent.
The base ingredients for risotto are show at right. From these base ingredients you can augment and add flavor profiles. You'll also see many recipes, blogs, and websites that tell you you need to heat the broth that you add to the rice, Yes maybe this is important if you're using homemade fresh stock that you always have cooking on a back burner, I've tried both hot and room temperature stock and it doesn't seem to make enough of a difference that I could tell so I'd rather not wash another pot, That being said you will see me making a risotto stock by augmenting a box of stock with fresh ingredients, when I do this I will heat the stock and keep it warm as I add it to the risotto.
Here are the basic steps to make risotto.
Add the diced onion and garlic to your saute pan or large sauce pan. Cook it in either olive oil, flavored or EVO or with butter. Cook until the Onion is translucent be careful not to caramelize or brown. Then add the rice, the rough rule of thumb is the ratio of rice to broth is 1:4. Cook the rice with the onions stirring constantly until the rice is coated with oil and it has a slight nutty smell, You may also add some butter to the rice at this point to give it some extra flavor. Next add the white wine to deglaze and cook until all of the wine is absorbed by the rice. Stir the rice constantly. Once the wine is all absorbed, add stock to the pan until the rice is just covered stirring constantly. When the stock is absorbed add more stock, did I mention stir constantly? Keep adding stock (while stirring constantly) you will see the rice expand as it cooks and it will release its starch and get creamier. Oh and stir constantly. Continually taste the risotto for seasoning and to check when the rice is tender enough. It should be past al dente and not hard in the middle but not mushy. Once the rice is cooked to your liking add your cheese then finally add your protein or hero ingredient. This is where your other pan comes into play cook and season your hero ingredient separately this way your risotto isn't under cooked and your hero is not overcooked. Did I mention stir constantly?