Last updated on November 18th, 2016
I’ve wanted to try and make risotto for a long time, but I’m afraid the stirring will take forever and it will turn into a big gummy mess. I assume you have some masterful trick that will help me get over my fear, right?
Don’t throw rotten tomatoes, but I find the slow stirring of risotto to be a really contemplative experience (those of you who love to knead dough will know what I’m talking about). There’s something calming about the process, watching the grains of rice plump up imperceptibly but ever so inevitably, feeling the steam of the salty stock on your face as you lean in to take a sniff.
You are correct, though—I do have a few tips and tricks for pulling together an easy risotto that doesn’t congeal into a gloppy paste on the plate, and, even more amazingly, doesn’t take hours to cook. I’m not going to say it’s a 30-minute meal, but it’s close.
Contrary to what you’ve heard, risotto will not immediately become a failure if you don’t stir it continuously. You can stop for a few seconds to flip a page of a magazine, run to get something out of the fridge, grab your phone, or shoo the cat away from that piece of plastic he shouldn’t be chomping.
And you don’t need to stir it maniacally either. Just a few slow, swooping movements round the pan with a wooden spoon are all that’s needed to keep things moving. Use a pan that’s wider than it is high to facilitate the even absorption of the broth—my favorite risotto pan is actually my All-Clad braiser, but a saute pan is another great choice. Keep the heat at medium-low so the broth bubbles slowly, watching it thicken and turn opaque as the rice releases its starch into the liquid.
The following recipe is a little bit like the Venetian dish risi e bici, or “rice and peas,” and a little bit like the traditional risotto Milanese, but with the extra unconventional addition of vibrant orange carrots. What can I say? Just like Forrest Gump, I love those two veggies together.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Makes 4 servings
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (see below)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small carrot, diced (about 1/3-1/2 cup)
- 1 small yellow onion, minced
- 1 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
- 1/3 cup frozen peas
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
In a small saucepan, bring the chicken broth and wine to a simmer and keep warm over low heat.
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt half the butter over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the carrot and onion and cook for about 5 minutes or until softened but not browned. Add the rice and stir well to coat in the butter and oil.
Add 1/2 cup of the broth to the rice and stir gently until most of the liquid is absorbed. Continue to add broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring gently as the rice continues to cook and absorb liquid.
Before you add your last ladleful of broth, stir in the peas—they’ll thaw quickly and absorb some of the broth without becoming overcooked and wrinkly.
After 15-20 minutes, most of the broth should be absorbed and the rice should taste tender and chewy but slightly firm to the bite. There will still be a good amount of sauce in the pan with the rice; risotto isn’t fluffy and dry like a pilaf, but retains a slightly soupy texture.
Season the risotto with salt and pepper to taste, stir in the remaining butter, the Parmesan and the parsley, and serve immediately.
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