Saturday, 21 February 2009

the risotto recipe

i'm not really sure how it happened, but one day, more or less a year after i moved to england, i discovered my friends regarded risotto as my signature dish. it's true, i cook a lot of different risotti, for myself and my friends.
when i was little, my sincere dislike of all things vegetables forced my mum to be very inventive in disguising peas, artichokes, leeks and radicchio in colourful dishes so that i wouldn't grow up with a chronic vitamin deficiency. i now like vegetables and love cooking them, as they allow you to be a lot more creative than a steak or fillet of fish. however, i still enjoy cheating myself and hide my mushrooms or courgettes in a creamy, filling risotto.
after all, cooking risotto it's a pretty simple affair and i learnt pretty quickly after moving out of the maternal home and engaging in my hectic student life. nonetheless, a few people have asked me for a good risotto recipe, so i though i would share my classic one which, i must immodestly admit, never fails to impress.
a risotto can be made with almost any kind of favourites are the classic mushrooms, the summery courgette and shrimp combination, the wintery pumpkin and cinnamon. the procedure is the same for almost all kinds.
it all starts with some butter and olive oil in pan, to which i add some finely chopped onion. once the onion turns brown, i throw in the roughly chopped vegetables (and shrimp or ham or whatever i feel like) and fry them on low heat until they're reasonably soft. at this point, it's time to add the rice (half a glass of rice for each person, old grandma trick), pour a tablespoon of white wine on it and let it fry together with the veggies, stirring constantly for about a minute. then i start adding the vegetable stock, a glass at a time, stirring regularly, until the rice is perfectly cooked. which means soft, but not mushy. it usually takes about fifteen, twenty minutes.
as soon as the rice reaches its cooking point, preferably a minute before, i turn off the heat, add a generous amount of butter and grated parmesan, stir it lightly and let it sit for a minute or so. this last step, called “mantecare” in italian, is essential, as it ensures the risotto is creamy. however, it's very important not to let the rice sit for more than a minute as it becomes rapidly overcooked, mushy and sticky. which is definitely not what a risotto should be!
and i can finally serve it, grate some more parmesan on it, sit back, have a sip of white wine and enjoy it.