Risotto? [General]

2009 Jan 16
I have this great memory from a few years back :
A chef who I worked with for many years invited me over for diner. The main dish was something I had never tried before : risotto. Using excellent cheese, wine and stock, the end result was outstanding (and I obviously had to take another plate).

---Fast forward a few years---

Tonight I'm having some friends over for diner. As a way to stay in touch, we try to have diner every two weeks and this time, I'm in charge of the main plate. Not plannig ahead, I used the first recipe I found which looked simple enough from our dear Martha.
Link : www.marthastewart.com

Since I'm not too sure about how this will turn out, I'd like to know, for future use, a good risotto recipe. Any suggestions? Also, what wine would you suggest to use?


2009 Jan 16
I'll ask my wife for hers because it's FANTASTIC!!!

2009 Jan 16
As wine suggestions go, I'm sure almost anything drinkable would work, regardless of varietal. But I'm going to hedge my bets and say that an Italian Pinot Grigio is probably the best way to go, simply because they're both Italian. It won't be too overpowering, and the flavours will be just plain nice.

My always-in-a-desk-drawer copy of Billy's Best Bottles 2009 (www.billysbestbottles.com) shows some good cheapish PGs that should fit the bill: like Italy's Gabbiano 2007. (LCBO product code 77990, $12.75). I wouldn't go looking for an expensive bottle for something like this.

The only time I tried to made risotto I failed miserably. I was using old rice that was of questionable provenance, and it never softened up, even after a healthy stint in the pressure cooker (!). I should try again some time, so that I can at least settle the score.

2009 Jan 16
Charles - I'm with Momomoto on the Pinot Grigio suggestion. And I have to say I've never personally made risotta, but my understanding is it is one of those finicky things.

Can't recall if it "leave it alone" or "keep stirring" anyways, it is very specific about what it needs.

2009 Jan 16
Charles I usually use chicken stock when making risotto. I tried making it with water once and I found it had a slightly porridgy taste so I would highly recommend using some kind of stock. I don’t really follow a recipe when I make a risotto but this is what I do. I melt a little butter in my wok (any fry pan will do) then sauté the veggies. (I usually use onions, mushrooms, and peas to start because they are my favourite but any combination will do. I will also poke through the veggie crisper to see if there is anything else I would like to add. BTW shelled edamame tastes great in risotto as do arichoke hearts.) Then I will add the “meat” if I use any (shrimp, scallops, and chicken are my favourites). Lastly I will add the Arborio rice just for a minute or two at the end then add the stock. You might want to keep it handy because the rice absorbs alot of liquid and you might need to add a little during the cooking process. Also stir it regularly because if you don't the rice will burn. I also add a splash of wine and a little parm. I have also heard of using red wine, beet juice and squid ink to make different coloured rice but have not tried it. Now I’m hungry for risotto-:)

momomoto if you are looking for some good, fresh arborio rice I would recommend the stuff sold in bulk at Market Organics. I haven't had much luck anywhere else.

2009 Jan 16
I use a good quality dry vermouth in my risotto... otherwise, it's all butter & stock! I got turned on to barley risotto from a meal prepared for me by Chef Michael Blackie from Perspectives... it was most excellent! So I did it at home and it turned out very, very well. I usually add some reconstituted wild mushrooms & a drizzle of white truffle oil, makes for a very decadent and hearty meal. Also, getting a good quality arborio rice from an Italian grocer doesn't hurt (spend the extra $1-2).

2009 Jan 16
My take on risotto:

1) Use the right rice (Arborio or similar). This yields toothsome grains in a creamy sauce.

2) Use premium ingredients, especially stock. This is a subtly flavoured dish. If you use canned chicken broth and [god forbid] that evil sawdust in a can that masquerades as Parmigiano, you will have a dull, bland risotto. Flavourings should also be top-drawer (the sweetest asparagus, the freshest herbs, etc.).

3) I have to say that I don't fuss much over the obsessive stirring. I use a non-stick pan on medium to medium-low heat, and occasional stirring works fine. That understood, you can't just put it on and walk away from the stove, either.

2009 Jan 17

This is one of my favourite risotto: Risotto with asparagus.

2 1/2 cups rice Arborio
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
1 lbs. fresh green asparagus
extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly Parmiggiano Reggiano
unsalted butter
about 6-7 cups vegetable broth if you can find it otherwise use chicken broth


1. Wash and trim off the tough end of the asparagus, leaving the tips and the tender part of the stalk.
2. Put the stalks in a pan of water leaving the tips out. When the water starts to boil add salt.
3. Cook the asparagus until tender. Cook the tips only for the last few minutes since they are more tender and cook quickly.
4. Remove the asparagus tips and chop the stalks in small pieces and cook them for a few minutes in 1-1/2 Tbsp. butter. Cook the tips apart in 1 Tbsp. butter (don't brown them!).
5. Put the asparagus stalks through a vegetable ricer and then blend them in a food processor to make a smooth sauce. Just set the tips aside for now.
6. In the meantime heat up a pan with 1 1/2 Tbsp butter + 1 Tbsp. olive oil and add the chopped onions. Cook them until soft and translucent. If they get too dry add few spoons of water or broth.
7. When the onions are ready add the rice, combine it well with the onions and butter, and toast it for about 2-3 minutes at high heat.
8. Then add the asparagus sauce and a cup of broth to the rice and mix it in well.
9. Once the rice has absorbed the sauce add about 2 cups hot broth and reduce the heat to medium (canned broth should work well). Mix it frequently.
10. Continue adding broth a bit at a time until the rice is nearly cooked. This will take practice since every rice cooks differently.
11. When the rice is a few minutes from finished add the asparagus tips and mix well.
12. After a minute or so add 2 Tbsp. butter and the Parmiggiano. Remove from the stove, cover the pan with the lid and let it stand for few minutes.

It's a very delicate risotto. I suggest a good Italian white wine like a Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG(Tuscany, Vintages), very crisp, delicate and refreshing.
But..... if you are a New World fan, you can choose a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

2009 Jan 17
I remembered hearing an interesting piece on risotto on the NPR food podcast. I think this is where it was from:


2009 Jan 17
I actually just tried making risotto for the first time over the holiday's, and was surprised at how straight forward it was and how well it turned out.

-First of all, I prepared all my extra/flavouring ingredients (cheeses, veggies, meat, etc.)
-Heat up 1-2 tbsps evoo, throw in some onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes until fragrant and soft.
-throw all the stock you need into the pot (I used about 6 cups for 1 lb arborio rice) and bring it to a boil. turn it down to medium heat and allow it to simmer for about 5 minutes to make sure it is HOT.
-pour in your rice and stir regularly for about 20 minutes. I agree you don't have to stir contsantly, but you want the rice to absorb the stock evenly so definitely keep an eye on it.
-Add all your extra ingredients along with 1 tbsp butter and 1/2 heavy cream and stir everything in.
-let it simmer for about 2 minutes.

All told it takes about 30 to 40 minutes, and is a great way to use up random things leftover in your fridge. Don't know what to do with that broccoli, half jar of sun dried tomatoes and old block of asiago? Throw it in the risotto!

Hope your risotto was a success!

2009 Jan 17
And folks, please be sure to pronounce it correctly: "ree-ZOT-oh" (roll the R and linger a bit on the T if you want to pretend to be Italian).

A pet peeve of mine is hearing foodies mispronounce it as ree-ZOE-toe. Spread the word. Nobody's to blame... we don't learn Italian at school.

(And an off topic pronunciation tip for the breast milk crowd, the "leche" in La Leche League is Spanish for milk and should not be subjected to French pronunciation. It has two syllables and is pronounced "LEH-che".)

Thanks for listening! I feel better now. :-)

2009 Jan 17

Fresh Foodie - OMG, did I read this right... you have taken up the cause of the La Leche League... "Breastmilk" is now a Foodie item of discussion right here on our own Ottawa Foodies. LOL

PS... Don't tell Captain C you know him and "exotics" before we know it he'll be posting a "Desperately Seeking" topic.

PPS... Tell me I imagined all of this... Otherwise I will have to give up drinking wine on a Saturday Afternoon!

2009 Jan 17
Food&Think... Cin cin to you then! ;-)

And I think I already ranted and raved here about the correct pronunciation of Cinzano so I don't have to do that now. Heee!

2009 Jan 18
I'm sensing some risotto pronunciation snobbery here! FF - I bet you enjoy Giada's over the top Italian pronunciation of all things Italian? (ie, parm-MEE-jah-no cheese, etc) :)

2009 Jan 18
Chimichimi, yep I did! :) At least she gets it right! There are two common words for that cheese:

English: "Parmesan" (pronounced par-mih-ZAN, Z as in zucchini not par-mih-ZHON, ZH as in pleasure)
Italian: "Parmiggiano" (pronounced par-mih-JA-no, J as in jelly)

Other Italians words often mispronounced by North Americans:

* Bruschetta - the CH is hard, so it should be broo-SKET-ah
* Al dente - AL DEN-teh, not AL DON-tay (that would be about Dante the poet)
* Pasta - PASS-ta, as in "class" not PAW-sta or PAH-sta. In Italian, the P is softer than in English, more like a P combined with a B.

I just found a great online pronunciation dictionary, so here you go:

Risotto - www.howjsay.com
Parmesan - www.howjsay.com
Bruschetta - www.howjsay.com
Al dente - www.howjsay.com
Pasta - www.howjsay.com

2009 Jan 19
Re: Risotto techiques...I like "Jamie's Italy" for a good primer on how to make risotto using traditional methods.

Typically I don't use carrots in the sofritto as I want the finished dish to be very white, creamy colour. For the same reason I typically make a chicken or fish stock that doesn't have roasted bones, so that it is a stock of lighter colour, although I will put a carrot or two in the pressure cooker when making the stock to get that nice flavour.

Generally, I lightly saute onion, celery and garlic until soft (no colour) add the arborio rice, saute until the rice is slightly clear and each grain is covered in oil/butter, than add vermouth or white wine, however I try to keep temps low to avoid browning/sticking which I often am trying to achieve with other dishes. Then add ladlefuls of boiling stock (important not to drop temp) and stir away. When the bubbles in the risotto are really popping it is time to add more stock, apparently the old women say that you can "hear" when the risotto needs more liquid. After about 20 min I pull out a single grain, slice it with a knife if it has a tiny sliver of white in the middle I know it is almost ready and take it off the heat, where i stir in cheese and a knob of butter. I usually also add a few spoonfuls of stock to the finished dish as it has a tendency to dry out as it makes it's way to the table.

Risotto should relax in a bowl, not stand up in a lumpy pile. This is a serious pet peeve of mine and I have to say I have eaten at many high-end restos (for example Wilfred's here in Ottawa) where they have served risotto piled up like oatmeal. At that point the risotto has simply dried out which personally is unacceptable.

If you are adding vegetable garnish or seafood, usually you can cook it in the last 3-5 minutes when the risotto is almost done and doesn't need aggressive stirring anymore.

I think it is important to note that you aren't supposed to add cream to get the nice consistency of a properly finished risotto. The starch should come out of the rice (which was initially sauteed) from steady stirring which slowly thickens the liquid. Add Parmesan once the pot is off the heat so that the milk protein in it doesn't denature and instead melts smoothly.

2009 Jan 19
Fresh Foodie - I try to learn (and remember) the correct pronunciation of words (from their original language), for nothing drives me crazier than the Americanization of words... I think that a lot of times we as North Americans don't know the correct pronunciation of words from other languages (or don't readily recall them) because of our over-exposure to the American Media and how things become bastardized.

As a Canadian, I particularly lose it when I hear French words Americanized... this weekend for example I was watching a Tv show when the announcer said "Argent" (he of course rhymed it with the military rank of Sergeant)... the announcer went on to say it was a "classy French word" for Silver. ARGGG, How ARE-GENT even sounds classy is beyond me... the class got all sucked out of the word the minute it came out of the announcer's mouth.

2009 Jan 21
I agree completely with Tracinho's post. I've used this preparation for risotto and it comes out perfect (well, better than anything else I've tried anyways). Adding the stock to the rice one ladle at a time ensures that you're using just the right amount of stock. The key is making sure that the rice is still firm enough and has the tiniest bit of "crunch" in the center of each grain. Also, don't be shy when adding the cheese, this is not the time to cut down on your fat intake.

Unfortunately, I'm afraid that the problem of poor pronunciation spreads much further than North America. I've experienced it in every country I've ever been to. I actually don't mind mistakes, the only thing that bothers me is when my correct pronunciation gets corrected by someone who doesn't know what they're talking about.


Me: I'll have the bruschetta.
Server: Oh, you mean the broo-shetta? No problem.

2009 Jan 21
Mcsheffrey - I hope your next words were...

"Actually it's Italian, and it's pronounced brus-ketta".
(For the record, I know how to pronounce it, just not sure how to type it).


Of course that means they`ll think you`re all hoidy-toidy, but what the h3ll it could be fun... and with any luck you`ll have actually contributed to their overall knowledge base.

2009 Jan 21
mcsheffrey, that's my ongoing gripe too.

Me: I'd like a Cinzano (chin-TZAH-no) please.
Server: Sorry?
Me: A Cinzano. C-I-N-Z-A-N-O.
Server: Oh, you mean sin-ZAH-no!

...It only really bugs me when it happens in an Italian restaurant.

The broo-SKETT-ah topic reminds me of a tidbit from my childhood. A Kenyan friend of my Dad's was over for dinner and the topic of pronunciation came up. We were sharing our own ways of saying "schedule" (i.e. SKED-yool or SHED-yool). The friend's observation: "I guess it depends which SHOOL you went to."

Awesome! :-)

2009 Feb 10
This thread has been so useful! I made risotto again tonight and I recalled this thread and the little bits of info.

Tracinho's advice of:

"pull out a single grain, slice it with a knife if it has a tiny sliver of white in the middle I know it is almost ready and take it off the heat"


"I usually also add a few spoonfuls of stock to the finished dish as it has a tendency to dry out as it makes it's way to the table."

really helped to make it much better tonight. :)

2009 Feb 10
mr Red's recipe for Asparagus risotto is almost spot on
I suggest an infusion of 1/2 cup white wine before adding the stock
and make sure the stock is at least at a simmer
canned stock is not a go for me as you cannot control the sodium levels (opt for low sodium organic or make your own)

and I love the Vernaccia di San Gimignano suggestion as it is one for the few Italian whites I like and it's a wonderful crisp and bright wine that is one of the few designated Organics in Italy

in the North, they use butter; in the South, olive oil
whatever you use finish the risotto with a few tablespoon of the same

2009 Feb 17
I often use the recipe for the mushroom risotto from Cooking Under the Influence
by Ben Canaider and Greg Powell (fantastic cookbook by the way...)

I make risotto quite a bit and to learn from my mistakes and my modest successes:

1 - be sure to take time to toast the rice
2 - If you add any wine or sherry etc. be sure to add it as your first liquid to burn off any alcohol taste otherwise it will overpower the taste
3 - use real homemade stock or broth, do not use canned stock (no flavor and too salty)
4 - keep your stock simmering away on the stove as you ladle it into your rice
5 - do not answer the phone or put in a load of laundry while you are cooking, it can burn quickly if unattended
6 - add any cheese and butter right before you plate the risotto
7 - add a bit more of the "good stuff" than the recipe calls for right at the end (for example, mushrooms, shrimp, peas etc.)

2009 Feb 18
Ok this thread has given me a craving for risotto, but it's not something I'd make myself (unlike many foodies, I'm nothing of a cook).

Any recommendations for amazing risotto in Ottawa (preferably downtownish)?

2009 Feb 26
This is the only risotto recipe I have tried and it has turned out really good each time. (I omitted the cheese and toasted pecans so the recipe is very flexible)

Risotto with Butternut Squash, Gorgonzola and Toasted Pecans
Makes 4 servings
4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 small onion , finely chopped
1 cup arborio rice
2 cloves small garlic , finely chopped
1 medium butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
8 large sage leaves , chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
In a saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Then reduce heat to low.

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium-high flame, heat the olive oil. Add the onion. Sauté for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the rice; stir until well coated, about 1 minute. Add the garlic and squash and continue to stir another 30 seconds. Lower the heat to medium and add 1/2 cup hot stock. With a wooden spoon, stir until the liquid is absorbed but the rice isn't sticking to the pan. Continue adding 1/2 cup stock and stirring until the stock is absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the rice is tender.

Remove from heat; add the sage, butter, and salt. Season with pepper. Stir to combine. Place risotto in a serving bowl and top with Gorgonzola and pecans.

Recommended variations
Cranberry Risotto: Add 1/2 cup dried cranberries with the garlic and squash.
Barley Risotto: Substitute one cup barley for the arborio rice and use one additional cup of stock. Barley has a nuttier taste and a less creamy texture than rice.

Indian-Spiced Risotto with Shrimp: Omit the squash and add one teaspoon cumin, 2 teaspoons curry powder, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. When the rice is about two-thirds done, add 1 1/2 pounds medium-size peeled and deveined shrimp. Continue cooking until the rice and shrimp are cooked through. Finally, substitute 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro for the sage, omit the Gorgonzola, and increase the amount of butter to 4 tablespoons.

2009 Feb 26
I'm drooling reading this - it looks high on the umami scale. Risotto is on my to-do list this weekend... might sub pecans for roasted pine nuts and add parm. I also have some rapini kicking around, would go well with this (slight bitterness, with richness & creaminess of risotto)

2009 Feb 27
I make mine with chicken stock, half red wine/half Porto, Parm cheese and a little bit of the port cheddar... It's a red risotto to die for!

2009 Mar 6
I am another great fan of Risotto's, the most wonderful comfort food out there. I always try to use homemade stock, typically chicken, though I have experimented in the past. Some interesting contributions in past conconctions.

1) Grind dried mushrooms and add the mushroom powder to the stock.
2) Add some good quality balsamic vinagar, typically in combination with a sweet wine / sherry so that the acidity and the sugar counter eachother.
3) Add some creamy havarti at the end, or perhaps a sharp old cheddar for the added piquant flavour.

Alas, I need to acquire more arborio rice before I can cook up another mouthwatering batch. In terms of effort to end result, this is one of the best recipes.

2009 Mar 26
..Ok, finally posted my recipe of Red Wine Risotto on my blog!

2009 Mar 26
poutine that looks incredible. and oh so yummy.
bookmarking it for next week's dinner menu planning!

2009 Mar 26
I'm pretty new here and hadn't read this thread before today, but read it I did and can you guess what I craved for dinner? You didn't even have to think about it, did you? Mmm-hmmm. Risotto. Now seeing as how I'm the family cook and I get to choose pretty well all the time what we're going to eat for supper it's surprising that we don't eat risotto more often - it is so good and there are so many ways to knock up the flavour; however, my wife is not a fan, never has been and likely never will be =:0( You feel my pain? Oh well, damn the torpedos, she's getting risotto for supper I says, glad she's not around to hear me! So I made a butternut squash risotto flavoured with caramelized onions, squash, Crotonese cheese and sage browned butter ( recipe here ) Totally delicious but not a peep from my dw, at least not until I start talking to myself - she says if you like risotto that it's a pretty good one. =;0) Faint praise I'll take. I don't think that link is active and I can't find how to format it on the site so here is the addy: www.williams-sonoma.com

While my dd would likely say that a lemon risotto I make is her favourite, one of my favourites is Beet Risotto with Greens, Goat Cheese and Walnuts from find.myrecipes.com which may be the only risotto that my dw liked (perhaps because it has a lot more texture than most risotto). I've made it with kale, beet greens and herbed goat cheese for instance. And the colour - just look at it in the link - a glorious beet colour! And a reason for me to look forward to fall.
But first, I get the leftovers for lunch tomorrow! My lucky day!