The Rise of Risotto

A very wise and handsome man once said, “The only thing you need to become a success is to show up and pay attention. Nothing magnifies that FACT better than a perfect risotto.”

For years I’ve held on to a precious risotto recipe, keeping it mentally locked away, never ever sharing it with anyone. When asked for the recipe, instead of writing it out or sending it through a simple email, my answer was always, “Just let me come over and make it for you myself”. On occasion, believe it or not, the offer was accepted by a close friend or two.

I may be wrong, but I get the feeling that people are intimidated to make risotto at home. Possible reasons being volatility and consumption of time as well as the needed attention of literally slaving over the stove for a minimum of 30 minutes. Perhaps that’s why I’ve shied away from offering it up. For fear of others failure? That’s it.

However, the latest request was different. There was no possible way I could have found the time to do what was needed to make it for her. So I caved and gave her what could be considered the starter recipe. The simplest risotto. You know what? It’s time I start having more faith in my friends. Because she nailed it.

This recipe was derived from a mixture of a few different ones I’ve found while searching out a simple yet luscious marriage of rice and broth. The main idea came from chef Jamie Oliver with a few tweaks from other contributors. I feel that I’ve figured out the perfect risotto for home cooks, with a base ingredient list anyone can collect from any grocery store.

I’ve taken the liberty of converting crazy British words into easy to understand “American”. Unless you fancy a nub of butter? Here is the gorgeous risotto recipe I use.

Ingredients

  • 32 Oz Beef or Veal Stock (Use chicken if you think beef or veal stock is too rich. Little baby.)
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Stick Butter (Room temp)
  • 3 Small Shallots (Finely diced)
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic (Smashed and minced)
  • 2 stalks of Celery, with leaves (Finely diced)
  • 1 1/2 Cups Arborio rice
  • 1 glass (4 Oz) Dry Vermouth
  • 6 Oz Freshly grated Parmesan

Heat the stock in a saucepan that can hold at least 4 cups

In a separate pan, at a low temp, heat the olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter, add the shallot, garlic and celery, and fry very slowly for about 15 minutes without coloring. When the vegetables have become soft and translucent, add the rice and turn the heat to medium.

The rice will now lightly fry. You will see slight pops and cracks from the grains. After a minute it will become translucent as well. Add the vermouth and keep stirring.

Once the vermouth is cooked, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat as low as your stove will go. Keep adding a ladle of stock at a time, whilst allowing each ladle to be absorbed before adding the next. Keep moving the rice around. Stirring and folding so you can see the liquid evaporate before adding more ladles. This will take around 15 minutes if your lucky. More like 30 minutes. Taste the rice every time you put another ladle of stock in the pan. You will notice a gradual softening occurring in the rice. You don’t want al dente. You want it to become soft to the tooth, but not mush. Don’t forget to season as you go. I say this because unless you are a pro and use the same stock or make your stock and already know how salty or peppery it will become when reduced, you’ll probably need to add salt as you go. Once you feel that you’re ready, take a breath, and maybe stretch your back a bit. It’s been a long journey, but you’re not done yet.

Remove from the heat and add 6 Tbsp of the remaining butter and all the Parmesan. Stir well. (If you decide that you want to add a little flair to this basic recipe, this is the time to let your freak flag fly as Luke Wilson would say. Add Lobster, or roasted mushrooms or whatever strikes your fancy. You can even throw in some extra creamy Tallegio to increase the goo factor. Or do nothing at all…whatever).

Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes. If you think that putting a lid on it isn’t important, Congrats! You’ve ruined everything and dinner is cancelled. Everybody hates you now. I hope you’re happy. Seriously though, every thing is mostly not too technical and can be tweaked except this step. If you fail and don’t cover the Risotto for the last 2 minutes, you will not meet the Oozy gooeyness you were searching for. I don’t know why this is the way it is. I just know that you don’t mess with science.

Eat it as soon as possible.

Lobster & mushroom risotto

Listen, I don’t remember saying anything about this being healthy, so I don’t want to hear your belly aching about it having too much richness for your “lifestyle.” Eat it. It will make people who hate you like you again. That’s my personal guarantee.

3 thoughts on “The Rise of Risotto

  1. Darn you Logan…

    Now I MUST make this.

    Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask you. Do you have a secret recipe for Pasta Carbonara?

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