Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What is Risotto? Make it Anytime of the Year.

I know when you think of Italian food or Italy, pasta and pizza are the first foods that come to mind.  But in Northern Italy, rice is a big thing.  Actually the dish is called "Risotto" and it comes in many flavors.  Well the rice doesn't but the additional ingredients give you all sorts of possibilities.

Two of them are recipes this week.  Tuesday is a "Pumpkin Risotto" and then Wednesday we break some rules.  We do risotto in a "Slow Cooker" and it's called "Slow Cooker Risotto with Sweet Corn, Bacon & Basil" and is great in the summer sweet corn season.

So what is Risotto?  It's a rice dish made with a short grain rice such as "Arborio" (most common available in USA), "Baldo" or "Carnaroli."  The rice is cooked in broth to a creamy consistency.  Most risotto uses olive oil or butter, onions, the rice, wine and/or broth of some type (chicken, vegetable, beef for example).  Added ingredients such as pumpkin (mentioned above), mushrooms or other items.  Then it is usually finished off with a little butter, grated cheese and/or heavy cream.  The rice is still al dente when the dish is finished and creamy.

To make risotto, you start with a couple of pans.  One to heat the broth you will be adding to the rice.  The heating of the broth is a most to create a great finished product.  The other can be a large skillet or sauce pan to heat the oil or butter before sautéing onions.  It may be best to remove them once done.  Then you add the rice and sauté it in the oil or butter for a few minutes.  Next you would add the wine (if using and it should be warmed too) and let it be absorbed.  Add the onions back and start adding broth a ladle at a time.  Stirring the rice mixture occasionally as the rice continues to absorb the liquid.  Once all the broth has been absorbed, you finish it off with a little butter, grated cheese or heavy cream depending on what the recipe needs.

Now there are some people who do it a little different.  Some won't use butter in the beginning while others won't use it at all or the heavy cream either.  Depending on the recipe, the wine may be white or red.  Some like to finish the dish by removing it from the heat, placing a lid on it and letting it sit 2 or 3 minutes before serving.

You can make up your own mind on which way you like it best.  Remember that this dish can be served as a first course or a main entrée.  So it has some flexibility to it.

Give one of these recipes a try or some other that sounds interesting to you.  If you're not sure, order it at a restaurant to decide if it is something you like and maybe then make on your own.

"Happy Cooking" until next week and please share with family and friends.

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