Risotto is an Italian rice dish cooked with stock to a creamy consistency. The stock to use depends on the risotto you cook - it can be meat-, fish- or vegetable-based. In every risotto you will need butter, onions and wine. Then you add different ingredients. For a risotto al porcini, you add porcini mushrooms and for a risotto al tartuffo you add truffle (at the end). The classic risotto alla Milanese contains saffron.

A risotto in Italy is a primo piatto (first course) followed by a main course, therefor calculate just 70 - max. 90 gram rice per person if you plan to serve more food. Please note, that you will need to buy a special kind of risotto rice (like "Carnaroli").

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risotto (ricetta di base)

Ingredients for 4 persons:

300 gr     rice (riso) Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano
1 l           vegetable stock (brodo)
200 ml    white wine (vino bianco secco)
50 gr       butter (burro)
1 small   onion (cipolla)
50 gr       Parmesan cheese, grated (parmigiano)
               salt (sale)
               olive oil (olio d'olivo extra vergine)

               garlic, celery (aglio, sedano), and other ingredients for risotto varieties*

phase 1

Heat the stock until boiling.
In a separate pan, heat some olive oil and half of the butter at low temperature, add the onions, (garlic and celery), and glaze slowly for a couple of minutes without colouring. When onions have softened, add the rice (turn up the heat a little bit).

phase 2

The rice will now begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring - with a wooden spoon - for about one minute only, when the pan seems dry and the rice look slightly translucent, add the wine and keep stirring until the wine is absorbed. The alcohol evaporates and leaves the rice with a tasty essence.

phase 3

Add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt.
Lower the heat to simmer, so the rice doesn't cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding stock, stirring and almost massaging the creamy starch out of the rice, allowing each ladle of stock to be absorbed before adding the next. - (It is about here to add special ingredients e.g. porcini mushrooms for other varieties of risotto*!) - The whole cooking procedure will take around 15-18 minutes. Taste the rice - is it cooked? Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but "al dente"with a slight bite. Don't forget to check the seasoning carefully. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, use boiling water.

phase 4

Remove from the heat and add the rest of the butter and Parmesan. Stir well.
Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes. This is the most important part of making the perfect risotto, as this is when it becomes more creamy - just like it should be.

Eat it as soon as possible, while the risotto retains its beautiful texture. Offer at the table more grated Parmesan and black ground pepper.

Sounds easy?  More tips for you to make it a success :

Although risotto is categorised as "soup" in Italy, the consistency should be not too liquid, but creamy. If you shake the pot/pan or plate, the risotto should make a "onda", wave.

The "Arborio" rice is very commonly used, but be careful, it can overcook easily. The "Carnaroli" seems is more robust, and its price is a bit higher. In risotto that has only fine ingredents, like "alla Milanese" or in risotto typical from the Veneto the "Vialone Nano" rice is preferred.

For making risotto you need stock, not broth. See the difference here on Wikipedia.

Make sure the stock is salted enough to add taste to the risotto.

The stock you add should be boiling as otherwise it would stop the cooking process.

If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, use boiling water.

Vegetable stock is great for all sorts of risotto. Instead of making your own stock, you can use an instant "dado", cube from the supermarket.

In general, dry white wine is used for risotto. Red wine is used in Piedmont or for risotto with radicchio di Treviso.

Add wine up to your taste. The alcohol evaporates anyway, so no problem for kids or water drinkers.

If you add a lot and/or heavy ingredients to the risotto, like prawns or peas, then a smaller quantity of rice per person might apply, especially when you serve it as a starter. Calculate roughly 70gr rice per person when risotto is a starter, and 100 gr per (hungry) person for a main course only.

In case you have some risotto left, there are more recipes, like frittate di riso, for the next day.

Only start cooking when all guest have arrived... if your risotto is pronto but the guest late, the rice will not be al dente or warm enough. Stopping the cooking process in between is also not ideal.

Approximate proportion of rice and liquid (depending on the rice quality) :

RICE           WINE                                         STOCK              PERSONS
100 gr           1/4 - 1/2 (50-100ml)                    300 ml                1 p. (hungry, main course)
180 gr           1/2 glass (100 ml)                        550 ml                2 p.   90 gr/pers
250 gr           1/2  glass                                      750 ml                3 p.   83 gr/pers
300 gr           1/2 - 1 glass (100-200ml)           900 ml /1.0 l       4 p.   75 gr/pers
350 gr           1/2 - 1 glass of wine                    1.0 liter               4 p.   88 gr/pers
400 gr           1 glass (200 ml)                           1.2 liter                5 p.   80 gr/pers
600 gr           1 1/2 - 2 (300-400 ml)                 2.0 liter                6 1/2 p. 90 gr (and next day)

* Varieties of Risotto:
Add mushrooms, dried or fresh (funghi, porcini), asparagus (asparagi), peas (piselli), broccoli, prawns (gamberi), saffron (zafferano, 30 gr for 300 gr rice), radicchio salad, or your own creation - but all after adding the wine (and having it evaporated) and about five minutes after adding stock - or even later, depending of the consistency of the ingredients. Truffle, Parmesan, parsley, for example, are added at the very end.

Vegetable Stock homemade :
  • heat olive oil, add veggies, cook for 5-10 minutes
  • add salt and water (a bit more than the quantity of stock you need), lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes
  • discard vegetables
  • veggies and herbs to use: onion, celery, carrots, potatoes, garlic, parsley, thyme, sage (salvia);

If you want to read more about risotto and Italian language is okay for you, then check out this website: www.risotto.it

    Buon Apetito !