Risotto ~ unravelled

It always amazes me how many lovers of risotto who won’t attempt making the delectable, versatile, creamy dish… I hope you’ll take 20 minutes to make it for your family ~ to make it for yourself!

History of Risotto

The history of risotto is naturally tied to the history of rice in Italy. While there are many conflicting opinions on the historical intricacies, rice was first introduced to Italy and Spain by the Arabs during the Middle Ages.

The humidity of the Mediterranean was quickly found to be perfect for growing shorter-grained rices, and enormous profits were made by those selling rice in Genoa, Venice and the surrounds.

The popularity of rice grew through Italy, though primarily among the wealthy owing to the still-exorbitant prices of the product.

Once the outside world discovered the quality of the Italian product, however, the money poured in and the availability of the short-grains spread, making the rice far more widely accessible.

It was in Milan where the rice met its delicious destiny. Milan had been under Spanish rule for almost two centuries (hence the similar evolution of paella in Spain), and rice had become a staple. Slow-cooking also dominated the culinary landscape of the region, with Ossobucco a long-held favourite.

The slow-cooking principles were combined with the local rice, emphasising the rich flavors, and spices (particularly saffron) for which the area was known, to create ‘Risotto alla Milanese’.

 Arborio or Carnaroli is best for risotto…

  • 2 c Rice (1 serving is 1 palm-full)
  • 1/2 c finely chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 T butter
  • 1/2 c white wine, optional (only the stuff you would consume in a glass, please!)
  • Approximately 4 cups stock (veg, chick, fish, beef depending on flavors using in risotto/main dish)
  • saffron, 1 pinch optional
  • 2 T butter
  • 1/2 Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
  • salt and fresh milled black pepper, to taste

place large pan of stock on a back burner; bring to low boil, then turn heat to high simmer. In a large skillet, add 1-2 T olive oil, when pan is hot, toss in onion and garlic, cooking until onion turns transparent. Add butter; when butter has melted, add rice; stir with a wooden spoon until the grains glisten (and they will glisten!); if using the white wine, add now, stirring until the rice has absorbed liquid. Once liquid is absorbed, add one ladle-full of stock to rice, cooking and stirring until liquid has been completely absorbed. Repeat the one ladle-full/stirring step until rice has reached the proper consistency, about 20 minutes. If using saffron, add with the last ladle. When grains are properly cooked, add salt and pepper (remember to taste a couple of grains of rice before adding salt), remaining 2 T butter and cheese, remove from heat and stir until incorporated. This last little muscle exertion will turn your rice into a creamy creation right before your eyes!

Additions may include: porcini or cremini mushrooms, asparagus, squash, peas, (or any vegetable, really) ham, shrimp, salmon… the key is to pair ingredients that would compliment each other: peas & ham, primavera (mixed veg), smoked trout with thyme, lemon risotto with chicken and rosemary, creamy tomatoes with shrimp and scallops ~ whatever your heart desires… just keep the ingredients TRUE & simple… enjoy ~ v

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