Risotto! It’s the ultimate Italian comfort food that can take on a dual role and star as either an entree or as a perfect side dish to compliment your holiday table, special occasion, or weeknight meal.
If you haven’t made risotto chances are you have probably heard of it. In recent years, risotto rose to fame on the hit TV show Hell’s Kitchen as the difficult to prepare rice dish known to give contestants a run for their money. On the show, both new and experienced cooks have had a hard time mastering just the right technique to please head chef and Scotsman Gordon Ramsay. Once you learn a few simple steps, you’ll be rewarded with a dish known for its comforting nature and creamy texture. Pair it with your favorite Texas Hill Country wine then add the recipe to your holiday list as a new Travisso tradition.
But first, a brief history lesson. By definition risotto is a northern Italian rice dish. The history of risotto dates back to the 10th century when it was brought to Sicily by Arab conquerors. However, historians traced the dish to northern Italy approximately 400 to 500 years later during an era of plague and famine.
The main ingredient and core of risotto is rice that is cooked in broth. Risotto lends itself to versatility and many recipes contain meat, vegetables and seafood. However, the delectable taste is attributed to the addition of other key ingredients such as cheese, butter, onions, and wine. The texture is a result of drawing out the starches that are contained in the kernels of the rice. During the preparation process stirring and adding broth over a period of time allows the kernels to cook and absorb the liquid that ultimately releases the mouth-watering flavor.
Using the right variety of rice and following a few easy steps are the keys to making a star-studded risotto. Most recipes give you the option of choosing Italian short-grained varieties such as Arborio or Carnaroli. The difference between these varieties and typical long grain-rice is that they are shorter, plumper and they release more starch creating risotto’s soft creamy texture.
If you are making the dish for the first time, following a recipe is the way to ensure your risotto is a success. There are seven steps:
- Sweating the aromatics.
- Toasting the rice.
- Stirring in the wine.
- Adding the flavor ingredients.
- Adding the liquid in increments.
- Adding the main ingredients such as meat and vegetables; and then.
- Finishing the risotto with cheese and butter. The final step is adjusting the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. While most recipes claim that it takes 50 minutes or longer to cook risotto, the time to prepare a well-balanced risotto is approximately 25-30 minutes.
You can start your new Travisso Italian-inspired holiday tradition with this recipe for Risotto Milanese, a Venetian specialty with saffron and Parmesan cheese as the stars. Add your favorite seafood for a main dish surprise or use as is to compliment a standing rib roast. Let this ultimate comfort food shine at your holiday table this year while you start your own Italian tradition.