Risotto is a wonderfully versatile Italian rice dish whose creaminess depends on the selection of the rice. The basics of cooking risotto are very very easy. Take rice. Add stock gradually. Stir for 20 minutes. Serve. Enjoy! Of course, there is slightly more to it than that.
You might also want to read Caramelised Roast Pumpkin Risotto, Asparagus Risotto, Eggplant Risotto and Tomato Risotto. All of the Risotto recipes are here and here. Or browse our Italian recipes here and here.
What is a Risotto?
A risotto is a creamy, moist, flavoursome rice dish, Italian in origin, that is very, very easy to make. It does take around 20 minutes at the stove (stirring). The basis of all risotto dishes is the same.
I once wrote in 1997 when I first cooked risotto:
Finally, most risottos should be served moist, almost like a very thick soup. A dry risotto that is meant to be moist is not worth eating😦.
It is best not to skimp on the process described below – if shortcuts are taken, the dish loses some creaminess. It does take 20 minutes, but that time is quite a beautiful, meditative time where you can think your thoughts and stir your love into the rice.
What Rice Should Be Used?
For best results use an Italian risotto rice, like arborio rice, otherwise it is not really a risotto, it is a rice dish. These rices have special characteristics (the releasing of its starch) that allow the risotto to become creamy and delicious with constant stirring.
You will find that there are different rices that suit different risottos – for example, a rice that suits wet risottos, and a different type that suits drier risottos. It is good to experiment, and to talk to your Italian providore.
How to cook Basic Risotto
Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
2 Tblspn Olive Oil
25 g butter
200 g arborio rice
5 cups simmering light stock or water
a little dry white wine (optional)
Salt and pepper
Have the water or stock (home-made vegetable stock is ideal), simmering on the stove. A little white wine in the stock is good.
In a separate, heavy-based saucepan, heat the oil and butter. Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil and butter. Stir for 2 minutes until you hear a cracking sound and the rice becomes translucent. Add a ladle of the simmering water or stock, and stir until it is absorbed.
Continue adding more liquid in this manner until the rice is cooked. Taste after 18 minutes. The rice should be firm to the bite. If you like it less chalky, cook for up to another 5 minutes, so that it is tender in the middle, but not soft.
Remove from the heat, add the extra flavourings (see separate recipes mentioned above).
Stir through a small knob of butter and a large knob of Parmesan cheese, grated. Add salt and pepper. Some people add some cream or creme fraiche, but if you have a good risotto rice, you don’t need this.
Season and stir. Serve.
A simple risotto with some Parmesan cheese, a few herbs tossed through, and a dusting of salt and pepper is a great and simple dish on its own.
You can add any vegetable that has been pre-cooked – mushrooms, or peas, even beans. Add asparagus, spinach or tomatoes (raw or cooked). Char grilled capsicums. Ruby Red Tomato Bites. I love a char-grilled capsicum and steamed broccoli risotto with pine nuts.
That’s it. That’s the basics. Just 20 minutes of stirring. Enjoy!
browse other Rice recipes
- Caramelised Pumpkin Risotto
- Play Nice with Rice – Cooking Rice
- Rizogalo – Greek Rice Pudding
- Steamy Buttery Rice