A well cooked risotto is a thing of beauty. An over or under cooked risotto is a tragedy on a plate. Believe me, I've been served both when I've ordered them in restaurants. I don't order them now as I really don't want to be disappointed.
What makes a good risotto?
A risotto should be creamy and rich, but cream should never be added to achieve this. The rice should be soft, but have a bit of firmness or bite to it. A bit like what you look for when you cook pasta. That al dente finish. You don't want the rice too soft or you'll end up with a mushy mess that no-one will enjoy.
Which rice should you use in a risotto?
Arborio rice is the traditional rice used in risotto and it's my rice of choice, but you can also use carnaroli rice which also makes a creamy risotto.
Arborio is a short, fat grain that releases starch while it's cooking which gives you that creamy finish. You won't get this with any other rice that is hanging around in your cupboard. This isn't one of those situations where you don't have the right ingredients so you use what you've got. That will lead to a disaster. Take my word for it.
You can read more about different types of rice and production in my post where I talk about my visit to Gallo Riso in Milan. I also share a recipe for a vegan sausage, red pepper and brown rice casserole.
Which oil to use?
If the flavours in your risotto are delicate you may want to go for light olive oil or vegetable oil which won't overwhelm the flavour of the other ingredients. I usually use gutsy flavours in my risotto so I use olive oil or nutty rapeseed oil.
Preparing the risotto base
I start my risottos with white onion or leek and garlic. I cook these gently until soft, but I don't let them brown as this could spoil the flavour. I add the rice and mix well so it's completely coated in the oil in the pan. If I'm adding mushrooms or other vegetables, I add them once the onion and garlic is soft, then cook them through before adding the rice.
Adding wine and stock
Once the rice is well mixed in and coated in the oil, I add a glass of white wine. Red wine isn't a great choice as it will turn your risotto pink and is too rich, which could also overwhelm the other flavours. An exception to this is a tomato risotto which almost calls out for red wine.
There's no need to worry about adding alcohol to the risotto as it is cooked out, so you are left with a fabulous flavourful risotto.
I use vegetable stock for all my risottos. I use stock cubes, but if you make your own stock then even better. The secret to the stock is that it has to be hot and added gradually.
Finishing off the risotto
As you add each ladle of stock, keep stirring until the liquid is almost gone, then add another ladle of stock. You need to keep adding stock until the rice is creamy but with a bit of bite.
DON'T WALK AWAY!
This isn't the type of dish you can walk away from while cooking. This is the type of dish you have to give attention and respect to. Stay at the pot and stir regularly. You also have to keep testing the rice so you can stop cooking at just the right moment.
Once the rice is creamy with a little bite, take it off the heat and add a dollop or butter or dairy free spread and mix it through. Then you should add a a few tbsp of grated Parmesan (veggie or vegan, according to your diet and preference) and season it with black pepper. I find it doesn't need salt as the stock can be quite salty, but add a little if you like. Make sure you taste the risotto to check the seasoning.
I like to sprinkle on more grated Parmesan and some chopped fresh herbs before serving. It is also quite a nice idea to set aside some of the ingredients to top it with. I added some cooked mushrooms to mine before serving.
Of course I had to serve my risotto with chilled white wine, since I'd opened the bottle, it would have been rude not to.
Graham and I really enjoyed this risotto. I mean really enjoyed it!
I used to make risottos like this regularly for Graham and I, but when Cooper decided he wasn't keen on rice, I just stopped making them. He's on holiday with his grandparents just now, so I thought this was the perfect time to make a pot of risotto for Graham and I.
I'm not sure this is the 'make the most of your time while he is away' my friends keep talking about but it's a start.
I'm missing the wee man like mad. It's going to be a really long two weeks.
creamy risotto, how to make risotto, which rice for risotto, mushroom risotto, risotto recipe, vegan risotto, vegetarian risotto, the best risotto recipe
Mediterranean, Italian, vegan, vegetarian
Yield: 3 large servingsAuthor: Jacqueline MeldrumPrint Recipe
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Creamy Mushroom and Leek RisottoA creamy leek and mushroom risotto recipe, with tips on how to make the perfect risotto and a free printable recipe.
- ½ small leek, cut lengthwise, then finely sliced
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 tbsp butter or dairy free spread
- 6 tbsp grated Parmesan (veggie or vegan)
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley