If I had known that the only skill required to make risotto was chopping an onion (without cutting off my finger), I would have tried my hand at making one years ago. But since I had only seen the dish offered on the menus of hoity-toity, upscale restaurants, I figured it had to be as demanding to make as those prices were to pay. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Feeling confident after my wildly successful quenelles, I wanted to make another difficult dish this week. Because of my (laughable) preconceptions, I decided that risotto would be the “R” food. I wanted to make it right, so I did a little research before I started. Here’s what I found out…
Risottos are creamy rice dishes, so they use short-grained rice, which has a higher starch content than their long-grained siblings. With more starch, the rice can absorb more liquid, which releases that starch and makes the rice stickier. This creates a rich, smooth risotto. The most common rice called for in risottos is the Italian Arborio variety, although Carnaroli can be used as well.
With that in mind, I set out for the store. Once I purchased my rice, I gathered the other ingredients from my pantry—onion, vegetable broth, salt, and Parmesan, all of which were rather common for such a gourmet dish. That’s when I started to read the entire recipe (seeing as I should have done that before I bought the ingredients) and realized that I should have chucked every one of my lame excuses for not attempting to make risotto into the trash years ago.
Okay, so I lied. There’s another skill required for making risotto. You have to be able to stir. Not vigorously, only gently. Then add more broth if the rice soaks up what’s in the pot, and stir some more. Super simple, and absolutely perfect for a busy weekend (or mid-week) night!
I’m proud to report that my chopping and stirring skills are up to par, and I gobbled up my risotto even faster than the ones I’ve ordered at 5-star restaurants. I’m not quite as proud to admit that I used my fingers to lick the bowl clean, but if there was no one around to see, wouldn’t you?
adapted from The Best Light Recipe
The original recipe served 6 and included a few more ingredients, but I didn’t miss them at all. I went a bit heavy on the onion, so when scaling this up for 6 people, only one onion is necessary. There will most likely be some broth left over, but that’s much better than having crunchy risotto!
1 c. vegetable broth
⅓ c. water
¼ tsp olive oil
¼ of an onion, diced
⅓ c. Arborio rice
3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- Combine the broth and water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer, then cover and reduce heat to the lowest setting to keep it warm.
- Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook 8-10 minutes, or until translucent and beginning to turn golden. Sprinkle with a dash of salt.
- Add rice to the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until the ends of the rice turn translucent. Add ¼ c. of the broth mixture, and let it simmer, stirring frequently, until most of the broth is absorbed. Add another ¼ c. of broth and repeat until the rice is creamy and still firm in the center.
- Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan. Serve immediately.