. Mushroom risotto .
My pet peeve with ordering risotto in restaurants is that the portions are always so tiny. And overpriced. This cheapskate didn’t understand why something that looked like porridge and pretty much tasted like porridge with cheese would cost so much. Now I do.
Making risotto isn’t difficult. Once you have everything set up nicely, it’s quite straightforward. What sucks is that you have stand at the stove for at least 20 minutes, patiently pouring chicken stock into the risotto rice ladle by ladle. Constantly stirring and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding another ladle of stock. After a while, my back started to cramp up and I got really really bored. So for all the effort involved, I would charge a marked up price too.
Besides discovering how much work goes into a plate of risotto, here’s what else I learnt:
The type of rice is important – Unlike the usual long grained Thai rice that we eat, the rice used for making risotto is an Italian short-grained which contains more starch than the other varieties of rice. This is why you get a rich, creamy texture. There are three types you can use to make risotto – Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano. Arborio is more common and can be found in most supermarkets. I used Carnaroli because this is what The Mom brought back from Europe. Carnaroli is more expensive but it is also more difficult to overcook which is good for beginners like me I suppose. It is able to absorb a lot of liquid and makes for a very creamy risotto.
Tostatura (say it with an Italian accent :P) – This is the first step to any risotto. Basically you sauté onions making sure it doesn’t brown, and then add in the rice to lock in the starch.
Keep the stock hot and simmering – Not only do you need good stock, your stock must be kept hot so you’re not pouring cold stock into the rice each time.
One ladle at a time – There’s no other way around this. It’s the constant stirring that breaks down the rice and makes the dish creamy. So no short cuts to making risotto.
The final touch – When the risotto is ready, stir in butter and parmesan. I’ve read that this is an important step to good risotto and you’re supposed to beat it in with some vigor.
Overall, my risotto came out creamy and yummy, and I didn’t make a mess out of it. I pretty much followed all the steps except for the final touch of butter because the recipe I used from Food Network didn’t specify I had to. Doh!