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Risotto, the most elegant rice on the planet!

August 16, 2009

Risotto is an Italian rice specialty that I think of as pasta because of its rich, starchy creaminess.IMG_0994 Arborio rice is the most common one to use. The shape and texture of the rice is unique but it is the process of cooking risotto that transforms the rice into silky bits of pleasure. There are a few keys to perfect risotto.
1. Great stock! I use a homemade stock of dark roasted chicken bones. When you reduce (boil down) liquid you are concentrating the flavors as the water evaporates. Making risotto is essentially a series of multiple reductions. You add a cup of stock at a time until the rice absorbs it and then add another. Each time you are concentrating the flavor! BEWARE if you use store bought stock that is fine but make sure it is low salt or it will be too salty as it reduces. IMG_0982
2. Sauté the rice with chopped shallots and olive oil until the rice is translucent and the shallots are soft.
3. Hit the rice with some white wine and let the rice absorb it all. Now you have a solid, tasty flavor base!
4. Have your stock simmering on the back of the stove so it is ready to add a ladle full at a time. STIR the rice constantly until each ladle full of stock is absorbed.
5. Roast your ingredients separately (mushrooms and asparagus in this case) and stir in at the end. This way you have great flavor from the separate cooking process (roasted mushrooms and grilled asparagus) as well as nice texture. If you try to cook the veggies, meat or seafood into the rice you are likely to end up with it overcooked.
6. Keep tasting the rice towards the end. You want it al dente just like pasta. Once the rice is almost there add one last ladle full of stock. Leave the rice a touch loose as it will firm up quickly once plated. IMG_0986
7. Stir in your ingredients of choice along with a Tb of butter and a few Tb of Parmesan. This last step is key to giving the rice a silky finish and perfect balance. You don’t taste the butter but it is doing its job!
8. EAT it right away. You will be temporary transported to another place…

I take a bite and my mouth is filled with the silkiest, creamiest texture you can imagine. A bite into a firm piece of grilled asparagus which cuts the creaminess with its full green flavor and the smoke of the grill. The mushrooms continue the earthiness with their meaty texture and golden brown goodness. The white wine I used to deglaze the golden mushrooms jumps out and marries perfectly with my glass of white wine (I am still drinking that amazing Albarino from Spain!). The Parmesan I stirred in at the end has that mild nutty, lovely salty finish that is the perfect finish to any great plate of pasta! Enjoy!!

IMG_0996Eat well, enjoy life, be happy.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. jonnyfrog permalink
    August 16, 2009 8:05 pm

    I loves me some risotto! Great recipe Jeffrey! In the film “Big Night” a diner is shocked to find a lack of actual shrimp in his shrimp risotto- the chef simply replies- sometime the risotto wants to be alone- there was also much screaming and wringing of hands when the diner demanded speghetti with his rice. See this film if you love Italian food- or just cooking, or just eating. Your story and recipe reminds me that the quality of rice, the quality of cooking liquid chosen, the amount of time spent nurturing this dish is what makes risotto so special.

    • Jeffrey Saad permalink
      August 17, 2009 10:02 pm

      Thank you Jonny. Big Night is my all time favorite food movie!!! Thanks for the support! Take care,
      Jeffrey 🙂

  2. anniefromasheville permalink
    August 17, 2009 5:43 am

    Wonderful recipe and cooking instructions. A good risotto is heaven on earth.

    • Jeffrey Saad permalink
      August 17, 2009 9:59 pm

      Thank you annie, enjoy!! Jeffrey 🙂

  3. Jackie permalink
    August 17, 2009 10:27 am

    Just watched your recent videos on Food Network. I appreciate the way you explain the spices and describe the flavors. It is a real gift that you have. Your passion, enthusiasm, and expertise are so apparent. Congrats on this recent opportunity. I think you did a fabulous/professional job – in quick sound bites. Way to go!

    • Jeffrey Saad permalink
      August 17, 2009 9:59 pm

      Thank you so much Jackie! That is the goal! I appreciat the support! Take care, Jeffrey 🙂

  4. August 17, 2009 10:29 am

    So! Tell us about the Spice Smuggler?


  5. Jeane permalink
    August 17, 2009 1:53 pm

    WOW-all of these recipes looked just fabulous. Are they posted somewhere? I could not keep up as I tried to write down the ingredients.
    The tilapia tacos sounded just awesome.

  6. Veronica permalink
    August 17, 2009 5:29 pm

    You don’t make me want to just eat the food, you make me want to go out on a date with it.

    • Jeffrey Saad permalink
      August 17, 2009 9:57 pm

      Thank you Veronica!!!! Jeffrey 🙂

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