You say risotto, I say risotto too


You say risotto, I say risotto too. I guess that is not so effective in print media…

A while back my friends Noah (from “Nozza’s midnight mussel extravaganza” notoriety) and Billy asked me about risotto. I can’t remember what they asked me exactly… How to cook one perhaps, or quite possibly how to get it to adhere to your genitals so as to crumb them and make arancini balls. Did you see what I did there? Arancini means risotto balls… Risotto balls balls. Maybe Pauly will be the only one to truly see what I did there but that’s OK with me. Anyway, I’m going to assume they asked me how to make a risotto or something similar.

When I make risotto (for eating or otherwise) I always start by having a wee little drink to set the mood. Next I sweat off my onion and garlic in some olive oil. While I’m doing this I have a pot of stock of some description heating on the stove. I also have some arborio rice and wine ready to deglaze the pan, and glaze up my eyes… And a knob of butter and parmesan or pecorino ready to fold through at the end.

These are the things I always do.

And then we need some flavours in there. Sometimes something as simple as tomato and basil is gonna satisfy your needs… other times your gonna need a little more. Here are some combos that have previously worked for me…

• Shredded duck, five spice, and mushroom
• Leftover roast lamb, caramelised onion and tallegio
• Pea and ham
• Cauliflower with pangrattata and caper and garlic buerre noisette
• Fresh broad beans, roast pumpkin, rocket and romano cheese (this one I call “a taste of my neighbourhood” because everything except the rice comes from… well… my neighbourhood)
• Miso and gorgonzola (this is not actually something I’ve tried, but Pauly is always doing food with miso and gorgonzola so I thought “why the eff not?”)
• Chicken, chorizo, pea and saffron (along the same lines as paella)

Risotto Base (enough for about 10-12 serves depending on what you’re doing with it)

1kg arborio rice, why arborio rice you ask? Because that is what risotto is made from. Use basmati if you don’t trust a thousand generations of Italians and Jesus.
1 brown onion, fine dice
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup white wine, to deglaze
2.5-3lt hot stock, or water infused with vegetables or herbs or both AKA. Stock. While vegetable stocks can be fairly neutral, if using meat-based stock they should have a purpose being there. Like I am always saying to the kids at work, do it with intent, don’t do it just because. Accentuating or enhancing flavours is always a good start, i.e., fish stock for a seafood risotto, chicken stock for chicken, etc. But saying that, there’s always going to be exceptions… Get me out of here
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
• On a medium heat, sweat off your onion and garlic in a good splash of olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper to join the party

• If you are using dry spices, add them now

• Once soft, add the rice and cook out until the grains turn opaque

• Deglaze white wine, and then start to add the stock, bit by bit, shaking or stirring the pot from time to time to keep the rice from sticking

• After 10-15 minutes you should be well on your way to the end of your stock. Either that or you forgot about adding the stock and left your rice to slowly char and infuse into the bottom of your pot… check to see if the rice is cooked by putting some in your mouth and chewing it. If it’s ready it’s time to add the butter and cheese. If not, add some more stock and let it go for a little longer
• Add your precooked star ingredients to your risotto now
• I like a risotto to be pretty wet, so now I’ll add just a touch more stock and then stir in a heaped tablespoon of butter. This makes it nice and creamy. Now stir in the parmesan cheese too. This heaps with richness and general awesomeness

Now you can go and make a risotto.

Or for a different take on things maybe you can bake it in the oven (the oven can give it a nice crusty top, as ovens often do), make some arancini (risotto balls, as I pointed out before), or a risotto cake to have with a roasted spatchcock, or stuff a leg of lamb with it, or, or, or…

It’s been my pleasure. Really. Go now, and enjoy.

“a Gitana blurb” (a blurb by my friend Gitana, who is of Italian descent so she would have to be quite the authority on risotto, eh)

Visiting the Gray, Jen and the boys is always grand. Of course, in addition to having a good ol’ time, my love for food is sated with banter and consumption! So, yesterday Graeme and I yarned about risotto and being of Italian heritage, he asked if I would add to the above.

Really, there ‘aint much to add. I wholeheartedly concur with Graeme’s list of “things I always do”. To the favourite combinations, I add pumpkin and mushroom with sugar snap peas with a healthy bunch of parsley. I like to use both fresh and dried mushrooms, the latter you can add to the stock.

Regarding arborio rice, there are also other kinds of risotto rice you can use: carnaroli, baldo, vialone nano, and calriso. Some regions of Italy prefer to use a particular variety. Some of these can be difficult to find here (or super expensive), but if you’re into risotto, worth experimenting with. Carnaroli is kind of considered the king of risotto. Another Italian based factoid is that arancini literally means “little oranges”. They are pretty super tasty and I like to always make sure I cook enough risotto for the next day ☺

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