Monday, February 2, 2009


Yes, risotto is not hard to make. Believe me! In fact, it's pretty methodical and ripe for experimentation, as I found out about two weeks ago when a friend told me about it. Like many, I assumed this was a dish best left to the gourmet restaurant sous-chef, not a handy-dandy all-in-one-meal that I could just whip up in a whimsy--I'm so glad I was wrong.

Since I've started to make risotto, I have experimented with a few different recipes--mushroom and sherry risotto, zucchini & squash risotto, cheese risotto. But the basics are always the same. Essentially, no matter what kind of risotto you want to make, you will always "add on" extras to the basic risotto recipe. Therefore, below, for your convenience, I am outlining how to make the basic risotto. Below this recipe, I will show you how I made "mushroom" and "squash" risotto, basically just adding a couple steps to the standard.


1 to 1.5 cups of Arborio Rice
About 4 cups of Broth (I used Chicken as it complimented all my recipes)
1 small to medium Onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons of Butter (salted)
1 cup of Dry White Wine
(Chopped Mixed Herbs, Optional--such as Parsley, Rosemary, Tarragon, etc.)
**"Piave" Cheese (or Parmesan or another hard, Italian cheese)

**if you can try Piave, I strongly recommend it, it has a distinct and sharper flavor than the Parmesan we are used to using. It looks just like Parmesan and is also an Italian Cheese--just ask your Cheesemonger.

  • Before starting, add your 4 cups of Broth to a small pot on the Stove and heat gently--you don't want it to boil, but you don't want it cold either. Because you will be adding Broth a ladle at a time to the risotto to cook it--you want the Broth to be at room temp or higher so that it doesn't slow down the process.
  • Add Butter and a couple rounds of EVOO to a large skillet and turn on medium/medium-low heat.
  • When heated, add chopped onion, saute until translucent
  • Add Arborio Rice to the skillet, saute the rice for 2 or 3 minutes.
  • Add cup of White Wine, turn heat a little higher so that the alcohol burns off quickly--stir as it evaporates, you want most of it gone.
  • Once wine has almost gone, add your first ladle of broth to the pan and turn down to heat to medium again. Stir, stir, stir. The liquid should be absorbing quickly and if you do not stir the risotto there should be lots of bubbles and sounds coming from the hot surface of the pan--you want there to be activity, essentially you are boiling the broth and rice together to cook--so keep an eye on it at all times, stirring nearly the whole time.
  • Keep adding ladle by ladle, tasting each turn. You want to rice to be "al-dente" or to your liking. Just when you think it's perfect, add one more ladle of broth to make sure it's all cooked throughly.
  • Add parmesan cheese and fold in. Serve warm and refrigerate.

***Do NOT freeze risotto--it will ruin it and become mush.


  • Before you begin with the above recipe do the extra prep work for the mushrooms: chop 1 shallot, 1 to 2 cloves of garlic, about 8 ounces of portabella mushrooms. Set aside. Also chop some mixed herbs and parsley, also set aside. Also reserve 1/3 cup of Sherry.
  • Saute shallots and garlic in EVOO over medium heat for a minute or two. Add chopped mushrooms and sprinkle with sea salt. Allow to saute until the mushrooms have cooked down to nearly half the size. Add Sherry, turn heat high, cook off the alcohol. You want almost all the liquid gone from the pan, just be wary not to burn the mushrooms. Then set aside mushrooms to rest while you prepare your basic risotto.
  • Once the risotto is "al dente"--fold in the mushrooms and add broth for at least 1 broth cycle. Then also add cheese and any herbs--fresh parsley, chopped finely as well as mixed mediterranean herbs, like marjoram, rosemary, tarragon, oregano, etc.


  • Before beginning basic risotto, chop 1 small zucchini and 1 small summer squash. You want to slice first in thin, thin cirlces. Then cut the circles into 4 quardrants. The point here is to cut the squash as thinly as possible, for it will be cooked very little (not sauteed).
  • Once your risotto becomes al dente, add chopped zucchini and squash and broth, and do this for about 2 cycles. In the end, add parsley, herbs, cheese as well as a little lemon zest.

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