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Preparing risotto at home

The realities of Risotto

Preparing risotto at home requires a particular cooking technique that is found primarily in northern Italy and used for all risotto dishes you may want to make. Although the flavoring additions are endless, you need to start with the same basics every time. The two main ingredients consist of the rice and broth. You should use an Italian variety of rice that is specifically grown in Italy, such as Arborio, Vialone Nano, or Cararoli. Arborio can now be found in most American grocery stores, but certainly can be found at an Italian specialty store. The broth should be homemade; to ensure the most flavor, but if time or circumstances make having homemade broth impossible, use the best canned broth you can find. Chicken, vegetable, fish and meat broths are all used depending on the other ingredients used in the dish. The flavoring ingredients can be almost anything, including vegetables, seafood, meats, and every combination in between. I even made a wonderful strawberry risotto for a special Easter celebration while I was living in Italy.

This is the basic cooking technique one would use to create simple Risotto Parmesan. To make other recipes, the flavoring ingredients would be added at different intervals of the cooking process depending on how long they require to cook. Check the individual recipes for this information. To start the risotto, you begin by sautéing chopped onion in butter or combination of butter and olive oil over medium heat until it is translucent. The rice is then added to the pot and mixed well with the butter and onions. Next a splash of wine is usually added for flavor, and once it has evaporated, a small addition of warm broth is added. You continue in this manner, stirring constantly and adding broth once the rice begins to absorb it. Continue cooking and stirring, for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked but yet retains a bit of firmness to the teeth. To complete the dish you remove it from the heat, and add a little butter and some grated Parmesan. The risotto should be very creamy, and will firm up as it cools. This technique remains the same for each recipe, unless seafood is added in which case you would eliminate the addition of cheese.

The quantities needed to make Risotto Parmesan for 4 - 6 are as follows:

6 Cups Chicken Broth
4 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter - 1 Tbsp removed to finish the dish
1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Onion
2 Cups Arborio Rice
1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Okay, you now know the technique, so it’s time to give it a try. Browse through your cookbooks, or check through the recipe links on this site and pick a risotto recipe to make. Afterwards, please post a message on my discussion board, and let me know how it turns out!

Deborah Mele 
Chi Mangia Bene, Mangia Italiano!

Other recipes by Deborah Mele:

Risotto With Caramelized Onions And Roasted Chicken

Risotto con Radicchi

This article has been reprinted with the permission of Deborah Mele who has her own web site, Italian Food Forever where you can also sign up for her regular newsletter.