How to Make a Basic Risotto

Posted on Mar 26, 2013

Risotto

Risotto is one of my favorite comfort foods. It’s a cooking method that I think every home cook should know how to do, and once you get the basic method down, you can go crazy and experiment with different ingredients.

The secret to a good risotto is simplicity. I don’t recommend adding more than two or three ingredients (two is really the ideal), and always cook the vegetables/protein first. The only things that should be added into a risotto raw are fresh herbs and perhaps something like lemon zest.

Though there’s an endless combination of vegetables you can use during each season of the year, in this basic recipe I used mushrooms and peas, which I think are a wonderful risotto combination. And any mushrooms will do. I happened to have some shiitake mushrooms on hand from Swainway Urban Farm at the Worthington Farmers’ Market. Shiitake mushrooms certainly aren’t traditional in a risotto, but they tasted wonderful.

And so, the method:

Heat 5-6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock on the stove. The stock must be hot before it can be added to the risotto. Homemade is best, because the stock is the best source of flavor for the rice.

In a heavy bottom pot, heat olive oil or 1 tablespoon of butter. 

Saute your vegetables (in my case, my mushrooms.) Remove from the pot once cooked.

Add more olive oil or another couple tablespoons of butter to the same pot, add 1 small onion, finely chopped. Saute over medium heat until the onions are soft. 

Add 2 cups of Aborio rice.* Let the rice cook for a minute or two.

Add 1 cup of white wine. Cook and stir the rice until all of the wine is absorbed.

Now comes the time for the stock. Add about two small ladles of the hot stock at a time. It should be just enough stock to cover the rice. Cook and stir, constantly, until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Repeat this step until all or most of the stock has been used and the rice is cooked. It takes about 30-40 minutes.

Once the rice is done, add 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and any cooked vegetables or herbs that you are using. (In my case, my mushooms and frozen peas, defrosted). Add a little more stock, if needed. Taste and add salt and pepper, if necessary. When serving, I like to add a little more parmesan cheese on top and a few grinds of black pepper.

And that’s it. Once you get the basic method down, you can experiment and create endless meals with each season’s produce.

*Aborio rice is the most traditional rice used. For a more nutritious risotto, try using farro. It makes the dish heartier and gives it a much chewier texture. Just note that if you’re using farro, it will take more stock and a slightly longer cooking time.