This is my favorite risotto recipe, a basic one, that you can always prepare, even last minute, if you have some of the most popular ingredients in Italy in your pantry.
Risotto indicates a way to cook rice that is completely Italian, the rest of the world eats boiled rice or steamed rice, as a pilaf or a side-dish. Risotto is a typical first course in Italian cuisine, in many versions spread throughout the country, even if it is consumed more in the north. Its main feature is the retention of the starch, which is gelatinized by cooking and ties the grain together into a creamy compound. Among the various qualities of rice, there are some particularly suitable for the preparation of risotto (Arborio, Baldo, Carnaroli, Maratelli, Sant’Andrea, Vialone Nano). I love Vialone Nano, a variety characterized by round, stubby grains (nano is the Italian word for “dwarf”), which has a high starch content without being sticky, it absorbs liquid very well, making it great for Risotto. The other ingredients vary depending on the recipe to be prepared, but it’s essential to cook Risotto in broth because according to us Italians the difference between rice and risotto could be summarized in the cooking method used: rice in water, risotto in broth.
‘Risotto‘ comes from the Italian word for rice, ‘riso‘, which in turn comes from the Latin word ‘oryza‘. In general, the suffixes ‘—etto’ and ‘—otto’ are used to make the diminutive of a noun (i.e. cane [dog] -> cagnetto/cagnotto [little dog]). ‘Riso‘ intended as the grain is not to be confused with ‘riso‘ meaning “laugh” which comes from the Latin word ‘risum‘, a derivation of ‘ridēre‘ [ridere] or “smile”.
In some regions (especially in the province of Milan) fare un risotto [to make a risotto] means to provoke great confusion by putting together heterogeneous things or subjects, unrelated to each other, just as the ingredients are mixed in the risotto and it becomes difficult to distinguish the different flavors. This expression is also used for a discussion or quarrel among many people for an issue about which everyone has different information.
I love risotto more than pasta. Nutritionists recommend it because it is a product that fortunately cannot be adulterated and it is easily digested by everyone. A fast food as well as a nutrient because it is made up of proteins, fats, vitamins, iron, sodium and potassium, to which the values of the other ingredients are added, which can be more or less rich. Like pasta, risotto is a white canvas that you can enrich with everything you like and because it matches well with meat, fish, vegetables and legumes it can be transformed into a delicious main dish.
This staple recipe reminds me of the dinners with my best friends in Italy, when we just wanted have time for ourselves, talk, and be relaxed in a good atmosphere. The kitchen is the most beautiful and convivial room in the house in Italy. My friends would sit at the kitchen table, we would talk about everything important, drink red wine, and eat some cheese while waiting for the risotto. I believe that a good but simple risotto is the best thing that you can prepare while talking with the people you love. It’s a comfort food that allows you to do two of the best things in your life in the same times: cook and listen to your friends’ stories.
Here is the recipe, two portions, of course.
Ready in 30 minutes.
- 2-1/5 cups (600 gr.) reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1-1/5 tablespoons (20 gr.) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1-1/5 tablespoons (20 gr.) onion (about 1/4 a small one), finely chopped
- 1 cup (200 gr.) Vialone Nano rice
- 1/2 cup (100 gr.) dry white wine (I love Sauvignon)
- 2 tablespoons (25 gr.) butter
- 5 tablespoons (70 gr.) Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
- kosher salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Cover the broth and keep hot over low heat.
2. In a medium, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil whit the onion over medium heat, and sauté until the onion is tender but not brown, about 2 minutes.
3. Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil, about 2 minutes.
4. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes.
5. Add 1 cup (200 gr.) of simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.
6. Continue cooking the rice, adding a 1/2 a cup (a ladle) of broth at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the taste and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total.
7. Remove from the heat. Stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano, the butter, and the salt.
8. Ladle the risotto into a serving bowl, season to taste with the freshly ground pepper and serve immediately.
That’s all! Buon appetito!
VARIATIONS AND TIPS:
RICE: instead of Vialone Nano you can use Arborio or Carnaroli too, but do not mix the different varieties because every one cooks a little bit differently and has a bit of difference to its consistency.
BROTH: I usually prepare a large amount of it all at once, and when it cools, I freeze it in little plastic containers so it is always portioned in my freezer and I only need to take it out and hit it.
BUTTER: If you prefer a creamier risotto you can add more butter at the end. It’s not very dietetic but it’s more delicious of course.
PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO: If you like Parmigiano-Reggiano as much as I do, you can add more of it. In this case of course you will need more butter to balance it for a creamy result.
PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO 2: In my recipes I usually use a lot of it. In order to reduce time and effort, once in a while I grate a lot of it and I preserve it in a snap & seal freezer bags in my fridge or freezer. You can preserve it for one week in the fridge and one month in the freezer. Of course it’s not really the same, but if you choose a good Parmigiano-Reggiano the result is more than acceptable… even for an Italian.