The word risotto refers to rice that has been toasted briefly in a soffritto and then cooked by gradually adding boiling broth or water and mantecato (adding butter and Parmigiano). Remember that rice suitable for risotto absorbs a quantity of liquid three times the weight of the rice itself. To cook risotto it is preferable to use a medium-height, heavy saucepan with a rather large bottom so that the flame can spread underneath.
4 oz. butter
6 tbs. Parmigiano
1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 qts. broth
12 oz. long-grain rice
How to make the Risotto (Basic Recipe):
Brown the onion in 1 oz. butter. When the onion loses its crunchiness (do not let it brown) add the rice and toast gently over a medium heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon until the rice absorbs the fat and becomes flavored. Then pour a ladle of boiling broth into the pot. If the recipe requires some dry white or red wine, add it first, let it almost completely evaporate, and then add the broth. Continue to stir – but not too frequently – and gradually add more broth as the rice absorbs the liquids. It is important to keep the rice simmering constantly, so dose the amount of broth wisely as you add it to the rice. When the rice is cooked al dente, turn off the heat. Add butter and grated Parmigiano, let stand, covered, for a couple of minutes, so that the rice finishes cooking. Serve immediately.
Risotto should not be too dry but lightly creamy, and each grain of rice should be fluffy. The broth used for risotto should always be rather light and clear, most often made from chicken or veal. The ratio of broth to rice for risotto is 1 part rice to 3 parts broth, more broth or hot water for boiled rice. For risotto use only imported fine Italian rice, since it is less rich in starch and therefore more suitable for this preparation.
Risotto can be made with various ingredients such as meat, fish, vegetables, game, etc. Some of the most suitable vegetables are asparagus tips, green peas, beans, radicchio leaves, artichoke hearts, leeks, zucchini, fava beans, and mushrooms. Chicken liver, and quails are suitable for meat-based risotto. For fish-based preparations, the most common ingredients are mussels, clams, shrimp, baby cuttlefish, scampi, swordfish, crayfish and lobster.
Risotto recipes are often named after the ingredients used, for example risotto con piselli (with green peas), risotto agli scampi, risotto with radicchio.
Parmigiano is never added to risotto with fish or shellfish. There are some exceptions, however, depending on personal taste.