Risotto is Easier to Master Than You Think
Risotto is one of those dishes that many people shy away from making because they find the task daunting. On several competitive cooking shows it is known as ‘the dish of death’. I don’t think risotto deserves this sort of bad press. Once you’ve mastered the technique, it can be a super quick dinner on a week night. Just be sure to file this recipe in your ‘done in under an hour’ dinner folder.
How to Customize Your Risotto
Many times, I’ll just use arborio rice and some sort of vegetable. 95% of the time I’ll saute some onions before I add the rice to the oil. Peas and roasted asparagus are my favourites but adding tomatoes also adds an interesting dynamic like in this Tomato Saffron Risotto. If I have left over chicken in the fridge or some fresh prawns (sautéed first!) I’ll add those as proteins. Sautéed mushrooms are always a hit in this house and the family adores my Porcini Mushroom and Black Garlic Risotto. The best thing about risotto is that it is versatile.
Truffle it Up!
My favourite way to have risotto is with truffles. Once in a while I’ll find some truffle paste or salt and add that with some herbs while the risotto is cooking. This Spring Pea and Truffle Risotto is made with truffle powder and finished with some black truffle oil we brought back from Australia. Finally, if you happen to just have some truffles handy then shave away while the risotto is piping hot. You want just enough heat so that the truffle releases it’s full flavour.
An Alternative to Stove Top Risotto
I have also experimented with making risotto in the oven. It turns out quite a bit drier and with a different texture and doesn’t have as creamy a texture. The only time I make risotto in the oven is when I want to use it the next day to make Arancini, but that is a whole other post for another time.
I do really hope you give making risotto a try. I hope it turns out for you but remember if it doesn’t work, try it again. It’s a dish worth mastering.
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Spring Pea and Truffle Risotto
Spring Pea and Truffle Risotto
- Olive Oil
- 1/4 cup white wine; preferably Italian
- 1 1/4 cup arborio or carnaroli rice
- 4 cups chicken stock; warmed (or vegetable stock)
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- truffle powder or fresh truffle
- 1/2 cup Parmesan Reggiano or Grana Padano
- Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan and then add arborio or carnaroli rice. Stir until all the rice is coated with oil and the rice is warmed up.
- Next, take that left over white wine (leftover wine?!) and add a couple spashes ‘around the pot’. Let it cook down into the rice.
- Add your first bit of warmed stock to the pot so that the rice is just covered.
- On low/medium heat let the stock simmer slowly away (with intermittent stirring) until there is only a bit left and then add more of the same amount of stock.
- Repeat. Intermittently, try a grain of rice and if it is still hard and a bit chalky, it is not ready. The grains of rice should be individual, but also part of the whole dish, meaning you should have some stock left so that it makes it’s own sauce.
- If it's not ready, continue adding stock, stirring, and cooking down until the rice is the proper texture.
- Before your last stock addition, add the frozen peas.
- As your risotto has reached the preferred texture, remove from heat and stir in the grana padano.
- Add truffle powder (or shave fresh truffles over the plate!) and top with more cheese.