Risotto is a forgiving and adaptable dish that’s deeply comforting.
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or butter)
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 shallots, minced
1 cup arborio, carnaroli, or vialone nano rice
1 cup dry white wine
1-2 cups additions**
(In this case, 1 cup wild mushroom, 1 cup chopped canned tomatoes)
1 cup Parmesan, grated
In a saucepan, heat stock over a low flame.
In a large skillet, heat oil, sauté garlic & shallots until soft, then add the rice and stir until rice has absorbed all the oil, about 2-3 minutes.
Pour the white wine into the hot pan and repeat the “soak up the liquid” drill. Add hot stock, one ladleful at a time, and repeat the “soak up the liquid” process, stirring between additions. Don’t hurry, the rice will be releasing its starches during this slow and meditative process.
At about the second ladle point, add any additions. Keep repeating until all the liquid has almost been absorbed, about 20 minutes. You want not-dry, not-soupy, with a bit of creamy liquid. Taste the rice—Is it soft, but still a bit al dente? Perfect. If you run your spatula through the risotto, it should flow slowly to fill in the space. As the Italians say, risotto should be like “la onda,” a wave that slowly rolls to shore.
Add the Parmesan as the last step, stirring to incorporate.
Keep the risotto from cooking too hot or fast—you want it to be simmering enough for the rice to soak up liquids, but not so hot that the stock is evaporating. Same goes for the stock—warm, not boiling.
Prawns. Mushrooms and tomatoes. Asparagus tips. Spring peas. Tiny squares of firm sausage. Caramelized onions. Ribbons of Swiss chard. All good!
A rich, homemade stock makes risotto shine, but a good boxed product will still yield a lovely dish. I generally use chicken and/or vegetable stock.