My family is Italian on my Dad’s side, and I have always been just a little obsessed with cooking all that is Italian. One birthday I was treated to an Italian cooking lesson and I was hooked for good. They showed me how to make all of the basics in one perfect day. Since then I have experimented with those basic recipes, and made each one uniquely my own by making a small change here or there, usually for convenience or because I didn’t have a certain ingredient. One of the first things I wanted to master was risotto. I always believed risotto was really complicated to make. The reality is that its super easy – it just requires some patience and the ability to stir and pay attention. I recommend getting a 45 minute play list pulled together with some thunderous drums to make the stirring less monotonous.
Here’s what you will need:
- 1 ½ cups Arborio (or other short grain) rice
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2 Tbsp. Butter
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 1 small onion
- 6 cups broth – chicken or vegetable
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil and 1 Tbsp. of the butter in a large frying pan or wok pan. Get it hot, but not smoking, and add the garlic and onion. Cook for just 2 or 3 minutes, until the onion starts to soften and little and get transparent. Add the rice and stir; cook for about 1 minute. The rice may pop a little, this is ok, just don’t get hit with flying hot rice – it’s not the best.
Add the wine and stir the mixture, give the wine 2-3 minutes to reduce. From here on out the plan is to keep the rice moving (you don’t want it to burn). It should be simmering but not boiling; don’t dry it out. Keep your heat low to medium. This is your chance to get an arm workout as you stir away. At this point in the recipe I put that playlist to work – today it’s the AnB/Despise You split, Weekend Nachos ‘Worthless’ and Iron Lung’s ‘Life.IronLung.Death’.
Add the broth, ¼ cup at a time at roughly 2 minute increments. Basically, the broth goes in and the mixture will look a little soupy. As you stir, the liquid will cook off and reduce. Keep adding the broth a ¼ cup at a time until it is all mixed in. Your rice mixture should look thick but still stir easily.
At this point, you are ready to stir in the remaining 1 Tbsp. of butter and Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste.
This is your basic risotto recipe. In the final stage you can add in whatever else you like to flavor it more intensely. I have added steamed peas, roasted vegetables (pumpkin especially can be good), grilled shrimp or chicken – this is the kind of recipe where you can use whatever you have in the fridge as long as it works with cheese and/or rice.
My favorite is fresh raw spinach and grilled shrimp.
–Veronica Mars, Buried At Birth
Be sure to check out Veronica’s band Buried At Birth! Listen to Pestilent Hallucinations here!!