Having a food blog doesn’t stop me from asking silly food questions.
On a recent trip to the grocery store, I could not find the risotto. After several minutes of scrounging around the different rice and grain shelves, I decided to solicit help. As I explained to the store clerk, I was making three-cheese risotto, and all that was left on my list was what the recipe referred to as “risotto rice.” He kindly pointed me to arborio rice.
Risotto, I learned, does not refer to an ingredient, but rather to a dish.
The key to risotto is using a short-grain rice, and not a long-grain rice. All rice contains two different starches: amylose and amylopectin. Long-grain rice – typically four times longer than it is wide – contains a greater percentage of amylose, while short-grain rice is heavy on the amylopectin. These molecules, the former straight, the latter branched and bushy, give the respective grains their personality. Amylose allows the long grains to separate when cooked, while amylopectin causes the short grains to stick together. Amylose is also extremely absorbent, allowing short-grain rice to retain up to three-times its volume in liquid, the sine qua non of risotto.
Long-grain rice includes basmati, texmati, jasmine, and popcorn and pecan rice. Short-grain rice includes arborio, carnaroli, vialone nano, and sushi. Brown rice is simply any rice that has not been milled, and still retains its bran and germ. (Which is why it should be refrigerated within two weeks of purchase).
Arborio rice is probably the most widely available short-grain rice, but it may not be the best risotto rice. Carnaroli rice is touted for producing a better texture of risotto – creamy and chewy, but without being gluey like arborio. Vialone nano grains are smaller than arborio grains, and will give your risotto a nutty flavor. Sushi rice will also produce an excellent risotto, and tastes virtually identical to arborio rice.
But no matter which short-grain you choose (and only short-grain will work), there are a few helpful hints for making a rich risotto. First, never rinse short-grain rice. Adding moisture too soon will throw off the cooking process. Second, be consistent; it’s important to cook the rice over a constant, medium-low temperature. Third, do not rush the risotto. Add the broth slowly, adding liquid only after previous ladleful has been fully absorbed. Fourth, be patient and keep stirring. Risotto takes some coaxing!
Follow these rules and you’ll get the perfect
Recipe from Jamie Olivier
PREP TIME: 5 minutes
COOK TIME: 40 minutes
YIELD: Serves 6
WHAT TO GRAB:
3 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 medium onions, diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 sticks of celery, diced
1 3/4 cups uncooked risotto rice (I used arborio)
1 1/4 cups dry white wine
Sea salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces Gruyere or Appenzeller cheese, roughly chopped
4 ounces Fontina or Taleggio cheese, roughly chopped
2 ounces Parmesan, freshly grated
2 ounces Sharp Cheddar, grated
2 teaspoons Italian parsley, diced
6 tablespoons butter
HOW YOU DO IT:
1. In a medium sauce pan, heat the broth over medium heat.
2. In a separate pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and celery, and fry gently for about 5 minutes, or until softened.
3. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the rice, stirring constantly for 1 minute. After 1 minute, add the wine and keep stirring. Once the wine has been fully absorbed (about 10 or 15 minutes), add a ladle of the hot broth, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Continue adding the broth, a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly. Remember to allow each ladleful to be fully absorbed before adding the next. After about 20 to 25 minutes, the broth should be entirely incorporated.
4. Once all the broth has been absorbed, stir in the Gruyere and Fontina. Off the heat, mix in the butter and Parmesan. Season to taste.
5. Cover the pot and let the mixture rest for 2 to 3 minutes.
6. Garnish with fresh parsley and grated cheddar, and serve warm!
Combine 1 tablespoon of butter for every two servings of risotto. Heat the mixture until warm, about 5 minutes.