I can’t believe we haven’t talked risotto.
Ok that’s a half truth. I did make that amazing farro and cauliflower risotto and share it with you. But we haven’t had a chat about basic simple amazing risotto.
(I added the above picture so you realize what a MESS I make when I am cooking. Yes my pictures may be pretty but know there is chaos behind the lens)
If hard pressed I would say my true foray into the world of becoming a better cook began way back in 2005 when Hell’s Kitchen first aired. The premise of the reality show is Gordon Ramsey (swoon!) take a bunch of wanna be chefs, puts them through the ringer, eliminates them one at a time, then eventually crowns one a winner and gives them their own restaurant. I only watched that first season but I learned on huge thing- none of them could make risotto.
Terrified I might wind up on the show someday (completely rational I know) I decided if Chef Ramsey was going to yell at me for something it wouldn’t be for my lack of ability to make risotto. My Joy of Cooking cookbook and I had a date in the kitchen and I taught myself how to make it. The best part? I had never even had risotto. I was just fumbling through trying to figure it out.
What did I learn? It is absurdly easy. All it takes is time, patience, really good ingredients, and lots and lots of tasting. In the course of cooking a batch of risotto I probably taste it 10-15 times, each time biting down on a grain of rice looking for that perfect al dente softness and crunch.
We have discussed good ingredients on here so many times I feel I have beat you over the head with this subject but here it goes again. When you have a recipe, like risotto, that uses so few ingredients use the very best you can afford. Pick up a GOOD cheese and a bottle of wine you would enjoy drinking. I also feel arborio rice is a must. It is fairly inexpensive (comparatively) in the bulk bins at my grocery store. Use your own homemade chicken stock or something with a very short list of ingredients.
So back to Chef Ramsey. If I were to be on Hell’s Kitchen tomorrow I would make a mean risotto. I promise. It would be cooked perfectly as well as properly seasoned.
Now my ability to cook steaks might get me in trouble but risotto will not.
Risotto Primavera (serves 4-6 depending on if it is a side or entree)
Adapted from the Joy of Cooking- essentially a basic risotto with veggies.
Note: Risotto is not an exact science but is rather based on feel. As stated above taste taste taste then taste some more. Some days your risotto will take 4 cups of chicken stock then the next take 5. Channel your inner chef and trust your instincts.
4 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
1 finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
6 oz green beans cut into 1 inch pieces
6 oz zucchini chopped
8 oz asparagus end removed and chopped in to 1 inch pieces
1 tbs olive oil
Place the stock in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Keep at a simmer while cooking the risotto.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat till hot. Add the asparagus, beans and zucchini and sautee for about 5 minutes until they are bright green and just starting to soften. Set aside.
In a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter cooking for 2-3 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total. Remove from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, the remaining tablespoon of butter, the sauteed veggies and salt and pepper to taste.