I happen to have a lot of friends who eat rice as part of their regular diet so when they come over, it is nice to make something that they might consider comfort food. I made this dish for the first time one evening and, since it was a side dish, I figured I would have plenty leftover. Between 4 of us, the entire dish was basically gone. I will assume this is a sign of a successful dish.
When making risotto you really do need a specific type of rice called, arborio rice, which gets its name from the town of origin, Arborio, in Italy. As you can see from the photos, arborio rice is a short-grained rice that looks plump. This Italian rice has a lot of starch which is what helps to give the final product a velvety and creamy consistency. A little goes a long way with this grain as if absorbs a lot of liquid.
The trick to making a perfect risotto is in the technique and it is pretty simple. Be sure to prepare the ingredients before beginning. Prepare a pot of chicken stock in advance and once it comes to a simmer, add a few pinches of saffron.
Saffron is one of my favourite spices and it is used in many Spanish dishes. It is not cheap because it comes from the saffron crocus which produces only 3 stigmas, or threads, that are hand-picked. As you can imagine, they do not weigh much but fortunately, they are so flavourful that you do not need much to flavour food.
Once you have the broth simmering, sauté 1/2 an onion in some nice olive oil. Add 1 C of white wine and reduce for several minutes. This is optional but it adds a really nice touch.
The next part is not an exact science so you will need to watch but the above photos demonstrate the technique. Stir in 1 C of arborio rice and add a bit of liquid. Try to keep the rice at a low simmer and adjust as needed. Beside to stir constantly. Do not just leave the rice on the stove top.
As the rice absorbs the liquid, you will see it start to plump. Continue to add the broth a bit at a time (1/2 C) until the rice is al dente, in other words, firm to eat but cooked through. This is very important because once you proceed to the next step, you are basically just seasoning the rice and the cooking procedure stops.
You want to make sure the rice looks a bit saucy because the cheese and butter that you add will thicken it a bit and you really do want a nice, creamy risotto. stir in about 1/4 C of butter and 1/2 C of fresh parmesan. Try not to use the packaged, grated parmesan. I am not opposed to it normally, but fresh does work best here.
You will notice that I don’t add salt and pepper to this recipe. You can adjust the taste but I find the cheese and broth have enough salt. If you find you are short of broth, you can quickly cook up a bit more but there should be plenty.
1 C arborio rice (640/12)
3 C chicken stock (36/2.8)
a pinch of saffron
1 C white wine (optional)
1/2 C fresh parmesan cheese, shredded (215/14.2)
1/2 medium onion, chopped (10/.5)
1 Tbsp olive oil (120)
1/4 C butter
1. Bring chicken stock to a boil.
2. Reduce heat and add saffron.
3. Simmer for a few minutes to soften the saffron.
4. Set broth aside.
5 Sauté onion in olive oil in a large pot.
5A. Add 1 C of white wine and reduce. (optional)
6. Stir in rice.
7. Add warm chicken stock to the rice 1/2 C at a time, continuously stirring.
8. When the stock is almost absorbed, add more until all the stock is done.
9. Once the rice is cooked, remove from heat.
10. Stir in parmesan cheese and butter and serve.
Calories 1021 total
Protein 29.5 total