When at its best, risotto is rich without being heavy, has al dente rice, a good helping of seafood, a shower of fresh herbs, all christened with a blanket of Parmesan.
4 steps to easy, ultra-creamy risotto.
Risotto done right, is absolutely sublime: rich and luxurious with just a touch of toothsomeness. And despite its reputation for being fussy or time-intensive, it’s actually quite simple to make. While you do need to attend to the pot while you’re making risotto, that step only takes about half an hour. And the results are more than worth it! All you need are a few choice ingredients and a bit of time at the stove and you’ll have a pot of creamy risotto that an Italian mama would be proud of.
The key to good risotto is using short-grain risotto rice. Arborio is the most commonly available variety in American supermarkets. These rices are high in a starch that readily breaks down when cooked, giving risotto its characteristically creamy texture (without any added cream). You’ll also want to make sure to use a broth or stock that you like, since the dish will be infused with its essence (use homemade if you can), and a good-quality Parmesan, to get the best flavour.
Step 1: Bring broth to a boil
Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat so the broth remains steaming, but is not simmering.
Step 2: Sauté rice and seasonings
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add shallots (or onion) and cook, stirring about 30 seconds. Add rice and salt and stir to coat.
Step 3: Stir in hot broth
Stir 1/2 cup of the hot broth and a generous splash of wine into the rice. Cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid has been absorbed. Continue to cook on medium-low, adding broth in 1/2-cup increments followed by a splash of wine, and stirring frequently after each addition, until most of the liquid is absorbed. If you'd prefer the wine to be subtler, add the entire cup at the end of Step 2 and cook, stirring, until the liquid is absorbed, then begin adding the broth. If you prefer to omit wine, use more broth in its place. The risotto is done when you've used all of the broth
Remove from the heat; stir in 3/4 cup cheese and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese.
Half an onion, finely chopped
25g butter or 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1.25l good stock, chicken or vegetable
200g carnaroli rice
50g unsalted butter, diced
50g Parmesan or Grana Padano (for a vegetarian option) cheese, grated
Bring stock to the boil (cubes will often be too salty, so taste and water it down if necessary).
Melt the 25g of butter (or use the vegetable oil) and soften the onion in a heavy-bottomed, straight-sided pan, then add the rice. Turn up the heat, and stir to coat the grains with butter.
When they are hot, add a small glass of white wine, and keep stirring until this has evaporated. Then you're ready to start adding the stock, a ladleful at a time. Stir until it has nearly all been absorbed – the rice should always be sloppy, rather than dry – and then add another, and so on.
Add any extra ingredients like mushrooms or seafood at some point during this time, depending on how robust they are – usually about 10 minutes in.
When the rice begins to soften (after about 13 minutes, but the only way to know is to keep checking), add the stock in smaller amounts, and test it regularly, until it is cooked to your liking. Then add 50g of diced butter, and 50g of grated cheese, and beat in with gusto, until the risotto is rich and creamy. Check the seasoning, then serve immediately.