The Zen of Risotto

7 Oct

IMG_0860I love risotto. It’s one of those dishes that requires love and patience. You have to stir and wait, and add liquid and stir, and wait some more (that’s why I call it the zen). It’s a labor of love that rewards you every time. But with that said, if you rush it you will be seriously disappointed.

The picture of the risotto to the right is a butternut squash risotto. You can really make a gorgeous risotto with almost any flavor, but I really like the butternut squash because it contributes a nice balance of sweet and savory. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

When making risotto you need three main ingredients, arborio rice, fat, and liquid. In most cases the liquid is stock and the fat is oil, but you can certainly use butter, duck fat, or bacon fat. I would stay away from grapeseed and soy oil simply because they don’t contribute much flavor to the end result. As far as the rice goes, risotto really isn’t risotto if you don’t use arborio rice. Arborio rice is a short starchy from Italy. If you use another type of rice the out come will be different. Here’s my recipe:

Butternut Squash Risotto

1/3 cup arborio rice
1 medium shallot, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup white wine (I used pinot grisio)
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup puréed roasted butternut squash
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

So why am I not including the directions with the ingredients? Well like most of my other posts risotto is a technique. Here’s how you do it.

1. Heat up a sauce pan and add the fat

2. Add shallots or onions if you’re using them and sweat for 3-5 minutes

3. Add in the rice and stir to coat each grain

4. Add in the wine and stir

5. Continue to stir until the wine is almost completely absorbed

6. Add in the stock 2-4 ounces at a time allowing the rice to absorb each addition of liquid before adding the next

7. Once all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, add in the butternut squash and cheeses

8. Season and serve

Other great flavorings for risotto are shrimp, asparagus, and ham with gruyere. You can also switch out cheeses and try blue cheese and smoked goudas. Also try swirling in pesto or sun-dried tomatoes.

Always thinking of the next meal


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