If there's one dish that really forces you to slow down while you cook -- and be present with what you're doing -- it's risotto. If you've heard anything about risotto, it's most likely that you need to stir the pot for 30 minutes straight. While this is a bit of an exaggeration, risotto does require attention -- which is why it's a great dish to slow down with. And the fact that it produces a bowl of comforting goodness is an added bonus.
There's nothing hard or stressful about risotto. Even though it shows up on the menus of many nice Italian restaurants, it couldn't be easier to make. And the better you get at it, the less time it takes to make (just one more incentive to become familiar with this dish). Another incentive is that once you have the basic recipe down, you'll be equipped to make over hundreds of different kinds of risotto. You could literally eat a new risotto dish every day for the rest of your life.
This is how it's done.
First, heat the stock. The stock is what coaxes the starches out of the rice; and the starch is responsible for making that amazing risotto sauce. You want to make sure you're using a flavorful broth -- preferably homemade -- and one that's kept at a warmed.
Next, prepare your additions. Even if you think you'll have time to grate cheese or blanche broccoli while your risotto is cooking, we recommend just getting it all done before you begin. You might have time to do those things as you're stirring the risotto, but you might not. And, there's no reason to bring stress into risotto making by not being prepared.
Make a sofrito. A sofrito is just a flavor base. It can be as simple as cooking diced onions in butter until translucent, or more complicated with added spices. The sofrito is the base flavor for your risotto, so don't rush this step. Allow it to cook all the way.
Toast the rice. This may be our favorite part. Add the risotto rice to the sofrito mixture, stir it so that all the grains of rice are coated with butter. Cook the rice, stirring a little, until it's translucent around the edges but still opaque in the center. Most recipes will tell you to cook it until it smells like toasted rice, but we've found that not all of us know what that smells like.
Add wine to deglaze the pan. While the pan doesn't really need to be deglazed, adding a bit of white wine will always make things better. It adds another level of flavors that will help make your risotto truly excellent. Let the wine simmer until it all evaporates. We also like to take this time to pour ourselves a glass.
One ladle at a time, add the stock. This is the part that makes some people feel impatient. Don't. Just roll with it because this is also the part where risotto goes from being just grains of rice to something creamy and better. Add one ladle of roughly half a cup of hot stock into the risotto until it almost all evaporates, stirring until that happens. If your pan is hot enough, it should take no more than two minutes per ladle. Begin tasting your risotto after about 10-12 minutes. The risotto is done when the rice is creamy, but still slightly al dente.
Once you've reached the desired texture, add in the final additions. On top of your vegetables or meat, you should always add butter and cheese. Trust us, it makes a huge difference. Risotto is not the place to skimp on butter. Stir it all together, and serve.
Congratulations, you've just mastered risotto, and we bet you don't feel one bit stressed.
Check out these other risotto recipes.