In the words of my 10 year old son, “risotto is no ordinary rice!”. Since he was 6 years old, risotto has been one of my son’s favorite dishes. Just about any variety works for him, as long as the finished result has that wonderful creamy texture characteristic of risotto.
In fact, when I told my son that I was doing a class this month on risotto he rolled up his sleeves and asked if he could help. I figured - what the heck? – why not teach him how to make one of his favorite meals?
People tend to think that risotto is one of those difficult dishes to prepare, but the truth is it is actually quite easy. All that is required is a little effort, about a half hour time and some few basic ingredients.
This month I’d like to share the wonderful teaching experience I shared with my son with our readers. Perhaps you and your children will become risotto fans as well!
Risotto is made from a short grain rice, usually Arborio rice but can also be made from Carnaroli or Vialone Nano. Risotto is the most common way of preparing rice in Italy, first originating in Northern Italy. The method of preparation is always virtually the same despite any variations. The rice is first cooked briefly in either butter or olive oil until slightly translucent. After this step, broth of any sort is added one ladle at a time, absorbing into the rice grains before each addition of liquid. Properly cooked risotto will bring out the creaminess of the rice’s starches, while maintaining the al dente texture of each rice grain. Risotto is often finished by stirring in cold unsalted butter and grated Parmesan cheese just before serving.
Now that you know the basics, we will begin this month’s class with a basic risotto and then provide different variations at the conclusion.
Basic Risotto Ingredients:
- 3-4 cups gf chicken stock, or any other type of stock
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
|Organize your ingredients. This will make the process go much smoother and make the preparation of this dish rather easy.
|Heat the chicken stock (or other stock) in a medium saucepan over medium high heat until boiling. Reduce heat to low to keep warm.
|Heat the olive oil in a small Dutch oven or medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots; sauté for about 2-3 minutes or until just tender. <insert pic risotto3.jpg>Add the rice; sauté until the rice grains just start to turn translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
|Ladle about ½ to ¾ cup of stock into rice and stir until the liquid is nearly absorbed by the rice. Repeat this process of adding stock and stirring until liquid is absorbed, until the rice is creamy and when tested is al dente. Season to taste with salt.
|Just before serving, add the parmesan cheese. Stir until incorporated. Add the butter and stir briefly, then cover and let sit, off heat, for 2-3 minutes before serving. <insert pic risotto7.jpg> Adjust seasonings, if necessary, with salt. Serve.
The beauty of risotto is it is great on it’s own, but is also wonderful with a variety of added ingredients. What you add depends on how you want to serve it. Do you want a heartier dish for an entrée or are you just looking for a side dish? In the dish I prepared with my son today we sautéed some red bell peppers and sliced mushrooms and added them to the risotto at the very end. This would (and did) make a lovely lunch, particularly if accompanied by a salad. Taking the more simple, basic risotto recipe with perhaps a few herbs added at the end would make a delightful side dish to any kind of poultry, meat or fish entrée.
Here are some wonderful risotto recipes from our archives that all use the same general method described above. Once you get the basic steps down I encourage you to try some of your own variations.
This is just a sampling of the many risotto recipes in our archives at Glutenfreeda.com. I chose the ones that were more suited for winter – there are also many others that would be wonderful during the spring and summer months. We hope you and your family enjoy these wonderful recipes and this amazing, and “not so ordinary” rice dish!
- Chef Jessica