Risotto is an Italian dish made from a specific type of short-grain rice called Arborio, though other varieties like Carnaroli and Vialone Nano are also used. The key risotto ingredients used are rice, broth, aromatics like garlic and onion, wine, butter and cheese. In saying that, risotto is a versatile dish and you can add various ingredients to customise its flavour and texture.
What is the trick to making a good risotto?
Making good risotto involves several key techniques:
Sautéing aromatics: Start by sautéing finely chopped onions, shallots, or garlic in butter or olive oil until they become translucent. This is the base of your risotto.
Toasting the rice: Toast the rice briefly with the aromatics to create a nutty flavour before adding liquid.
Adding liquid gradually: The key to a good risotto is adding the liquid gradually, one ladle at a time, and stirring constantly. This way the rice absorbs the liquid evenly.
Stirring: Stirring the risotto constantly helps release the rice's starches, making it nice and creamy.
Al Dente: Cook the rice until it's al dente (so it has a slight bite).
Kitchen tools needed to make the best risotto
- Large, wide saucepan: This is the primary cooking vessel for the risotto. It should be large enough to comfortably accommodate the rice and vegetables while allowing for stirring.
- Ladle: Add the warm stock to the risotto one ladle at a time during cooking.
- Saucepan: You'll need a saucepan to simmer the vegetable or chicken stock along with the onion, carrot, garlic trimmings, thyme, and peppercorns. It should be large enough to hold the ingredients and produce at least 800ml of stock.
1 brown onion
6 cloves garlic
2 sticks celery
1/2 bunch thyme
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
1 tsp peppercorns
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra, to serve
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, cracked
1 cup risotto rice (carnaroli or vialone nano)
1 cup dry white wine
Sea-salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to season
75g unsalted butter, chopped
80g parmesan, finely grated, plus extra, to serve
Flat-leaf parsley leaves, to serve
Peel and finely dice onion, carrot and garlic, trim and finely dice celery, reserving all trimmings. Put trimmings in a saucepan with thyme, stock and peppercorns, cook on medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, then strain. You should have 800ml of stock. If not, top up with water. Return stock to low heat to keep warm.
Heat half of the oil in a large, wide saucepan on medium heat. Add diced vegetables and fennel seeds, cook, stirring, for 10 minutes or until softened. Remove from pan, set aside.
Heat remaining oil in same pan on medium heat, then add rice. Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently, until rice is translucent. Return vegetables to pan, then pour in wine, simmering until absorbed. Shake pan to loosen.
Add one large ladle of warm stock to pan, shake, then cook until stock is absorbed. Repeat with remaining stock, shaking regularly, until only one ladle of stock remains. Set stock aside.
Remove from heat. Season. Add butter, beat well. Add remaining stock and parmesan, then beat again. Spoon risotto into bowls and top with parsley, extra parmesan and oil. Serve.