Risotto

Hello Fellow Foodies!

I have a startling confession to make, but first I want to say that I love Risotto! This is not the confession. Lots of people everywhere love Risotto. What is Risotto, you ask?

Well...Risotto is an Italian dish made with Arborio rice. It is slowly cooked by adding small amounts of liquid every few minutes and stirring constantly in between additions of said liquid (usually stock). The rice, being very starchy, produces its own creamy sauce that is just so lovely.
http://www.epicurious.com/tools/fooddictionary defines Risotto thusly:
risotto
[rih-SAW-toh, ree-ZAW-toh]
An Italian rice specialty made by stirring hot stock into a mixture of rice (and often chopped onions) that has been sautéed in butter. The stock is added 1/2 cup at a time and the mixture is stirred continually while it cooks until all the liquid is absorbed before more stock is added. This labor-intensive technique results in rice that is delectably creamy while the grains remain separate and firm. Risottos can be flavored variously with ingredients such as chicken, shellfish, sausage, vegetables, cheese, white wine and herbs. The famous risotto Milanese is scented with SAFFRON. The use of Italian ARBORIO RICE is traditional in the preparation of risotto.
© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst. Read More http://www.epicurious.com/tools/fooddictionary/search?query=risotto#ixzz1lA0ajjNH

I have had Risotto all over the world. No, I am not exaggerating. I have eaten Risotto in Europe, Japan, and all over the USA. I have had plain Risotto, Wild Mushroom Risotto, Seafood Risotto, and a sweetened dessert Risotto (admittedly not my fave), the varieties are nearly endless!!!

 I have become something of a Risotto SNOB over the years, as well. I know a great Risotto, and I know a lousy Risotto when I taste one. The trick is the rice. Because it is slow cooked with the chef standing over it stirring at all times, it can be a fickle dish. The rice should, like fine Italian pasta, be al dente, but not crunchy-and certainly not mushy either! One has to know EXACTLY when a risotto is perfect, get it plated, and then served before the lovely creamy sauce becomes a gooey starchy mess.

So, what is my confession? I have never made Risotto myself!!! Yes, 20+ years in the restaurant industry, and countless plates of the stuff greedily consumed and rated to my high standards, and I have never ever made a single mouthful of Heavenly Risotto my own self!

Last week that all changed. I decided to purchase a good brand of Arborio rice and just knuckle down and do it! You know what, Dear Readers? It was shockingly easy to make! So here is my recipe for perfect risotto:

Chef Julie's First Ever Risotto

1 onion-diced
1 large clove garlic-minced
3 Tbs. olive oil (extra virgin please)
8 oz. by weight Arborio/Risotto rice
3-4 cups good quality stock of you choice-boiling (I used chicken)
2-3 Tbs. butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano
sea (or Kosher) salt and black pepper to taste

In a sauce pan over medium high heat, saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil for about 5 minutes until the onions turn traslucent. Stir in the rice and saute until the rice absorbs all of the olive oil. Add one cup of the boiling stock and while stirring allow the rice to soak up most of the liquid.

Repeat the process with 1/2 cup of stock at a time, continually stirring after each addition of stock until each amount is absorbed. After you've add about 3 cups of stock take a bite of your Risotto-it should be creamy and al dente, not crunchy or mushy. You may need to add move stock at this point to reach the perfect texture (don't worry you'll know when you got it right). Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and cheese. Serve with a little cheese on top for garnish. Manga, bebe!

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