This simple perfect risotto is great as a main meal, or a delicious side. It is easy to adapt and super easy to make. Oozy, unctuous perfection.
Does risotto have cream in it?
So for the record....Risotto doesn't need cream. If they are putting cream in it they are making it wrong! and the Italian Nonna's will be chasing you down soon 😉
It is the slow cooking and frequent stirring that creates the unctuous creamy texture. Following my simple steps you get creamy risotto without adding cream.
How to cook risotto at home.
Cooking risotto breaks down into: soften the onions, add the rice, add the wine, add the stock, add the butter and cheese. It is a leisurely cook. Nothing is rushed. Everything is very chilled out and relaxed. A bottle of wine needs opening, the rice needs stirring and some cheese needs grating. That is really all you have to do.
There are 5 things you need to know when making risotto.
- The rice. It has to be risotto rice. Arborio and Carnaroli are the most common and both are readily available in the supermarket. Personally I love carnaroli but arborio will still give you a delicious risotto. There are two lesser known varieties, Vialone Nano, and Baldo. Neither of which I have seen in Australia, but then I haven't been out on a true reconnaissance mission. Oooh time to go on a shopping adventure? Please let me know if you have a store near you that sells these varieties and if you live right next to a beach and a perfect beach bar so much the better 🙂
- The toasting of the rice and onion, known in Italy as the Tostatura. Toasting is really the wrong word as you don't want anything to actually toast or brown! What you really want to do is heat the rice grains up so they start to release starch quicker and cook quicker. This and you want the pan nice and hot so that when you add the wine, it will sizzle and evaporate fast, leaving a great flavour but no 'raw' alcohol taste.
- Add the stock gradually. Don't get impatient and pour too much in, especially towards the end of cooking. You might just put too much in and then you either have to eat risotto soup or you have to simmer it for longer and eat risotto rice pudding. Add it gradually and you will be rewarded with a delicious creamy unctuous risotto. I have seen and tried recipes that add all the stock at once. I wasn't convinced, but then I don't mind the relaxing leisurely stirring, for those who can't potter in the kitchen I can see the benefits, but I didn't love the results.
- The Mantecatura. This is the best bit. It is when you add all the naughty bits. You add the parmesan and butter to the risotto and using your wooden spoon you beat it like mad. Be careful you don't send your dinner flying over the cooker 😳 (no never done that) but this is the point to stop the leisurely stirring and stir like a crazy person. It makes such a difference to the end result, this is where the 'cream' comes from.
- Patience. The whole dish is a slow patient cook, but the last 5 minutes is the hardest part. Once you have beaten the cheese and butter in. Clamp on a lid, remove it from the heat and leave it for at least 2 minutes but 5 is best. It gives you time to grab a fork and another glass of wine.
Please don't be put off. I know that seems like a long list of do's and don'ts. But it is worth it and as long as you have the time to spend in the kitchen then you will have dinner perfection.
If you are loving risotto them check out my Beetroot risotto with Ricotta and lemon thyme. It is bright pink risotto and I wrote the post for breast cancer research. Everything in that post is super dear to my heart and I admit I find it hard to read!
Simple Perfect Risotto
- 1 onion
- 1 stick celery
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 200 g risotto rice
- 1 glass of white wine
- 1.25 litres stock (chicken or vegetable)
- 50 g butter
- 50 g Parmesan
- salt and pepper to taste
- Finely chop your onion and celery.
- Heat the oil in your pan (see notes) and gently sweat off the onion and celery until they are soft.
- Whilst this is cooking, put your stock into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Allow it to sit on a low heat so the stock you are adding is always hot.
- Add the rice to the onions, turn up the heat and allow everything to heat up but not brown. Once the rice has started to get glassy translucent edges. Pour in the wine and stir continuously.
- Once the wine has evaporated, turn the heat back down low, add two ladles of stock and stir gently. As this stock is absorbed add two more ladles of stock. Make sure you have the risotto on a low heat, otherwise the outside of your rice will cook too quickly and you'll get a mushy crunchy risotto 🙁
- Continue to stir and add, until your rice is cooked through. This takes somewhere between 15-20 minutes. As you are nearing 15 minutes, start adding the stock one ladle at a time.
- There is no exact time for cooking risotto, the only real way to know if it is cooked is to taste it. The rice should be cooked through, with no chalky centre but you still want it to have a bite to it.
- Although risotto has to be stirred a lot, it isn't constant. So use the time whilst the rice is cooking to chop your butter into small dice and grate the parmesan.
- If you run out of stock before your rice is cooked, use boiling water to finish the cooking. This ensures you don't get an overly salty risotto.
- Once the rice is cooked, add the butter and cheese and go crazy with your spoon. Stir. Stir. Stir.
- Check the seasoning and add salt if required.
- Remove from the heat. Place on the lid and leave it to rest for 5 minutes.
- Serve with some cracked black pepper and shavings of parmesan.
- Bask in the glory of your creation and smile happily at the empty plates.
- Risotto doesn't really heat up, the oozy, unctuous flow disappears as it cools and it never quite returns. So make sure you finish the pan. Second are 110% allowed 😉
Simple Perfect Risotto
(aka my recipe ramble for those who love the waffle)
There are some things that just get me cross, irrationally, instantly cross. This sounds very negative doesn't it, I should change some to three things. Now please don't get me wrong, other things get me cross, but they are not irrational, they are normal things that I am sure plenty of people get cross about, cruelty, people being rude, jeans that constantly fall down, those impossible to open plastic packages, lack of manners (in everyone), badly made coffee, all the normal stuff.
I am not an angry cross kind of person, I think I am fairly relaxed as long as I have had my well made coffee 😉 but I do have three little pressure points that see my temper flare.
One is people pulling at my clothing. I have no idea why it annoys me so much, but it gets my back up. I admit it is really only the boys that pull at my clothes, I am yet to have a random stranger do it in the street 😉 I am a pretty patient mum, at least I like to think I am, I am happy (unless we are late!) to wait for them to find a book or favourite toy, I will walk (very) slowly around the supermarket with Mr 4 and let him 'find' everything on our shopping list, even though this means our weekly shop takes well over 2 hours! I will spend 40 minutes with the boys making pizza when I know I could have had it done in 5, but I just don't tolerate my clothes being pulled.
The second is the phrase, "go try your best, get out there and give 110%". Arrrrgh. And that is right up there with "I'll have the bigger half". Oh I know what they mean but my mathematical brain cries a little when I hear those phrases. And no one wants a crying brain. (did you notice my 110% in the recipe 😉 😉 )
And the third is risotto recipes that use cream. Oh I get so angry I want to throw the book, magazine or laptop across the room. Actually I am going to change that. Risottos with cream FULL STOP. Be that recipes or perhaps worse still ordering a risotto to find it is just a bowl of under-seasoned rice that someone has mixed cream through. My face falls, my heartbeat increases, my temper flares and this usually very calm, deferential, unassertive, respectful girl wants to stand up, scream and shout at the chef, insult his/her cooking ability and demand an instant refund. I know...scary! And this is the reason that I very rarely order risotto when I am out. I hate the disappointment and then the food envy as everyone else gets something that looks and tastes amazing. Just to balance this, I have had some amazing risottos in restaurants, including a blue cheese, cherry and walnut one in a hotel restaurant (too unusual to not order) and a zucchini flower one at a winery cafe in Margaret River.