Risotto is my favorite thing to make – I’d even go so far as to say it’s my specialty (after spending many hours making it at culinary school and at Michelin starred restaurant La Locanda di Bu in Nusco, Italy – it definitely ought to be!) Risotto ‘mantecato‘ (creamed with butter) was pioneered by ‘il Padrino‘ of contemporary Italian cuisine, Gualtiero Marchesi. His revolutionary dish, Riso, Ore e Zafferano (rice, gold and saffron) has impressed legions of chefs and food critics worldwide for its restrained beauty and striking impact on both the palette and the plate. The secret of a good risotto not only the type of rice used, but also the preparation. While Arborio rice is favored in America, I suggest using Vialone Nano, or, Carnaroli – it’s smaller and, therefore, will have a faster cooking time (about 12-15 minutes). The other secret is to make sure there is always the right ratio of liquid to rice – you want it to just cover it! It’s not necessary to stir continuously, but make sure you do stir each time you add more liquid. Also of vital importance: add the salt the first time you add the stock, this way the rice will be seasoned as well as your flavouring! After you have finished the mantecato, spoon a ladle of the risotto on the plate and pound the bottom of the plate with your fist – this will allow the risotto to ‘fall’ in a perfect wave. You can use this standard risotto recipe and apply to any kind of flavouring you want, such as my pumpkin and black truffles or beet and herbs – just add it in halfway through the cooking.
Risotto (Serves 4)
240 g vialone nano risotto rice
1.5 quarts vegetable stock
1/4 litre liquid flavoring
1/2 shallot, minced
20 g butter
20 g grated Parmesan
- In a medium saucepan, heat up 10 g of butter at medium heat. Add the minced shallots and give a stir with a wooden spoon.
- Pour in the rice and give it a stir. Let cook for about 30 seconds or until the rice gets hot – test it by grabbing a handful
- Deglaze with white wine.
- Once the white wine has reduced, add a ladle of stock and bring it to a boil. Stir the rice and SEASON WITH SALT- it is very important to add the salt at this stage so that the rice itself is properly seasoned.
- Keep adding stock to the risotto as it cooks – always keep the liquid level just above the rice. Let it boil and stir every so often in a circular motion from the outside edge inwards.
- Halfway through the cooking, add the flavoring with half a ladle of stock.
- Once the risotto is almost finished (test it by pressing a few kernels against a wooden cutting board with your finger – it should have a small white spot in the middle), add a half ladle more of stock, 10 g of butter and half of the grated cheese.
- Turn the heat off and stir it all together, allowing the cheese and butter to melt into the risotto. It should resemble a sauce with rice. Reserve the rest of the cheese for the table – if you’re anything like me, you’ll be wanting that extra bit of Parmesan!!