Creamy, warm risotto is snuggly, comfort food to me. In fact the entire process is soothing, almost tranquil and serene. Yes, really. I know I’ve heard from many who fear the process of making risotto. As a matter of fact, and complete surprise to me as I was just about to post this, Katherine at Rufus’ Food and Spirit Guide posted her risotto recipe and first attempt at making it. A successful attempt, I might add and very well done Katherine!!
Without a doubt, making risotto does involve some time and patience. Rarely would I prepare risotto when making a full dinner of different dishes. I’ve used one basic method for making my risotto for years now. I guess it serves about 4-6; depending on the serving sizes. I find that a little goes a long way; it’s a rich filling entre. When I do serve for a dinner party, it would be in the first course, as it should be served as soon as it is done.
The following is my method. There is no recipe to pull out and study. The quantities I use are always the same; the ingredients are varied as to my desires from stirring in seafood to veggies to various herbs and spices. I normally use Arborio rice to make my risotto; although there are also Carnaroli and Vialone Nero (difference is mostly in starch content; Vialone Nero is also the smallest grain.)
Along with my method, please follow along to prepare for this soothing experience. Turn on some soft and mellow music or jazzy blues, whatever makes you feel good. Dim the kitchen lights, light a few candles. I loathe bright lights; I prefer to cook by candlelight which drives my daughter crazy!! Open a glass of good white wine; you’ll need this to cook with, so go ahead and pour yourself a glass. However, in this recipe, I decided to use Limoncello in place of the wine.
I truly enjoyed the this risotto, it was lightly flavored by the lemon zest and Limoncello and complimented by the gentle fresh thyme. Velvety creamy delicious!
Mise en place; have everything ready to go…..
1 ½ cups of Arborio rice
1 quart of either homemade chicken stock or veggie broth (that would be one on my quart containers or one box of purchased broth), poured in a separate saucepan and brought to a simmer
White wine – however, in this recipe I’ve replaced the wine with Limoncello, ½ cup divided (make sure the wine is not chilled)
Olive oil and butter, about 2 tablespoons of each to begin, 1 tablespoon additional at the end
1 shallot, finely minced
Herbs of your choice, in this case I used thyme, about 2 tablespoons chopped
Zest from one organic lemon
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In the large saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter. Using a wooden spoon, gently sauté the shallots, do not allow them to burn. (Many times I will remove the onions as I prefer not to have them in my finished risotto.) Add in the risotto and toast very lightly only a few minutes. The key to risotto making is in the gradual addition of liquids, basically a ladleful at a time and kept at a simmer, i.e, low heat. Begin with ¼ cup of Limoncello (normally it is the white wine). Stir slowly to swirl in the liquid. Take a sip of wine; you do not need to stir nonstop.
After the Limoncello (or wine) is absorbed in the rice, begin adding in ladles of the warm, simmering broth. Cold liquids would shock the rice, pouring the broth in gradually and stirring creates the creaminess. Continue adding in ladles of broth as the rice absorbs it. Set the table; dine by candlelight, even if alone.
At the point where you’ve used all the broth; the risotto has released its starch and is now creamy, similar to pasta, is cooked al la dente, with a bite. I like to finish with another ¼ cup of Limoncello (or wine), stirring to absorb and toss in any herbs, in this case the thyme, lemon zest and parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. For a nice rich finish, swirl in a tablespoon of warmed cream or butter. Serve immediately.
I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.