Eat Risotto in Italy – they know how to cook this tricky little dish. Risotto is considered to be the death knell for many aspiring chefs on cooking shows along with chocolate fondant or molten lava cake. To Italians, risotto is de riguer and they know how to make it perfectly. Most meals start off with a risotto and of the Italians that I know, this risotto is chock a block full of offal. Whilst I love risotto, I am yet to get my head around offal, so for those purists out there, sorry.
What is risotto?
Risotto is a rice dish, and at its core it is comfort food. The flavor from the stock is a vital element and getting it cooked perfectly so that the rice is not stodgy nor under cooked takes a lot of practice and patience.
However not all risotto needs to have offal and there are many types of risotto to be found all over Italy. Many of the differences are regional and dependent upon on the produce available, the type of oil used and even the type of rice that is preferred. One constant is the use of parmesan cheese and butter. Saffron is a key ingredient of Risotto alla Milanese, which is fairly synonymous with risotto in Italy.
Much as coffee is vital to the Italian people, so is risotto. I do not think that it is an attractive dish to look at, quite the opposite but a good risotto is a great taste and more than atones for its appearance. We try risotto wherever we go in Italy and anywhere you find older Italians especially. Total bragging rights here, I cook a mean risotto because I have been taught how to by an Italian Nona who insists on it being done perfectly. She was not impressed when I made lemon and turmeric risotto cakes, but our guests were. I think that she considered this to be a bastardisation of risotto, but when she eventually tried them, I got a shrug. If you know a Nona then you know that a shrug is a sign of approval.
There is no easy way around making “good” risotto. The key ingredients in my opinion are time and patience. The stock must be of the best quality, and a short grain rice used, Arborio I think. The key is to heat the stock in one pan, and in another gently fry onion and garlic in an excellent oil or butter. Then add the rinsed rice and coat the rice in the oil or butter. This is when you can add a little wine to start the absorption process. Then it is a matter of ladling one spoonful at a time of the heated stock into the rice until it absorbs the stock, then do it again, then do it again, then do it again .. stirring ALL of the time. Then it is a matter of knowing when to stop and to start adding your other ingredients. Be aware that if anything has to be cooked to be added to the risotto – offal, do it before because you cannot leave the risotto ever.
Eat risotto in Italy
If this is too much trouble, then when in Italy, let them cook risotto for you and enjoy this ugly but delicious dish.