Posted at 11:19 AM, May 27, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-28 15:34:37-04


Risotto is the rice dish of northern Italy. In the same way that people in the rest of Italy put plates of piping hot pasta on the table at every main meal, northerners resort to rice.

Making great risotto requires attention to both process and content. The process for making all risottos is essentially the same.

Basic Ingredients
1 small onion diced
1 clove of garlic
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup arborrio rice
¾ cup white wine
2qts chicken stock
salt and peppers
2T butter
¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Start by heating broth in sauce pan. While it's warming, sauté chopped onion and garlic in olive oil. When the onions are soft, add the rice. Stir for a few minutes until the rice is well coated with the oil.

Add wine to pot and stir until alcohol has been burned away. Start adding stock. The key to adding the broth is to add a little at a time. And to keep stirring while the rice absorbs it. When it's absorbed, add a little more. The dish is done about eighteen or so minutes later when the rice is al dente (cooked through, but still a bit firm in the middle). Quickly add your cheese or other ingredients. Stir well. Serve and eat while it's hot.

Squash Risotto

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into ¼ inch dice
1 small acorn/butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced ¼ inch
2 cups Arborio rice
½ cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock, hot
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

In a 12 to 14-inch skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and squash cooking until the onions have softened and are translucent but not browned 8 to 10 minutes. Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon until toasted and opaque, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the wine to the toasting rice, and then add a 4 to 6-ounce ladle of stock and cook, stirring, until it is absorbed. Continue adding the stock a ladle at a time, waiting until the liquid is absorbed before adding more.

Cook until the rice is tender and creamy and yet still a little al dente, about 15 minutes. Stir in the butter and cheese until well mixed.

Mushroom Risotto

8 cups chicken broth, low sodium
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 onion, diced, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced, divided
1 lb. mushrooms (Portobello and crimini), sliced
1-ounce dried porcini mushrooms, wiped of grit (if available)
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper
Truffle Oil (Optional)
2 cups Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
Fresh Italian parsley, for garnish

Heat the chicken broth in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add ½ onion and 1 clove garlic, cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add fresh mushrooms, herbs and butter. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned, season with salt and pepper. Drizzle in truffle oil (if available) add reconstituted porcini mushrooms (if available). Season again with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Sauté 1 minute then remove from heat and set aside. Note: Mushrooms are added to risotto later. If cooked with risotto tend to turn rice a gray color)

Coat a saucepan with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Sauté the remaining ½ onion and garlic. Add the rice and stir quickly until it is well-coated and opaque, 1 minute. Stir in wine and cook until it is nearly all evaporated. Now, with a ladle, add 1 cup of the warm broth and cook, stirring, until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time. Continue to cook and stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. The risotto should be slightly firm and creamy, not mushy. Transfer the mushrooms to the rice mixture. Stir in Parmesan cheese, cook briefly until melted.