I’ve tried to make Risotto before and each time I failed miserably. It always wound up coming out either a soupy mess, or a gummy pile of overly-sticky rice that lumped up on a fork. Risotto is tricky, probably because it’s so precise. It’s almost like baking (which I’ve already admitted I’m not good at either) and because I’m more of an experimental “eyeball and wing it” type of cook, it’s no wonder I was never able to hone in on the “Goldilocks” zone in which the Risotto came out just right.
However I recently stumbled across a great article on my Zite feed from Epicurious called The Only Risotto Recipe You’ll Ever Need. This article seems to distill it down to a simple base and lets you go from there. So I decided to give it another shot.
As the linked recipe says, I started with 2 1/2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth and 4 cups of water brought to a boil and then lowered to a simmer. Then in a large pot I sautéed a 1/2 cup of finely chopped shallots in 2 tablespoons of butter on medium-high until they were soft. Added the Arborio rice and stirred for one minute. Added 3/4 of Chardonnay and stirred for another 2 minutes.
Now I think this is the part I kept screwing up in the past and I have to wonder if it’s the same mistake a lot of folks make when they attempt this dish. Instead of adding the water/broth mixture all at once, which I had done in the past, I added it in three smaller batches of 2 cups at a time. I waited until the Arborio had absorbed all the liquid before adding the next 2 cups, stirring often and then repeated a third time. Cooked for 20 minutes until the rice was soft and added 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 3 or 4 healthy grinds of black pepper. There’s a little bit of reserve liquid leftover in case it’s still a little dry, but I found out I didn’t need to utilize it.
Now the fun part. The article gave some suggestions, but I went my own way here. Folded in a whole filet of smoked salmon, some sautéed asparagus tips and a 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese.
As someone who’s wrecked a Risotto on more than one occasion I was pleasantly surprised by how well this came out. Even before folding in the extras, it was a creamy, well-balanced dish. Flavors melded beautifully and the texture was absolutely perfect.
This was a seriously great recipe and I’m thankful to the folks at Epicurious for posting because it really helped me get over the Risotto hump. The fact that the base is all you really need and there are endless combinations at that point means I plan on experimenting with some different flavors quite a bit in the future.
Tried to make your own Risotto? Have a favorite Risotto recipe? Leave a message in the comments section!
And remember… the food abides…