Growing up, I was always cooking, even when I was a toddler I wanted to stand at the stove and create. I have a sister who does not have a love for cooking but most certainly has a love to be cooked for. Every year for my sister’s birthday, her gift from me is that I become her private Chef for a day… she gets to pick the menu and I will make an appetizer, main and dessert for her and up to four friends. One year my sister asked me to make risotto, apparently her and her husband watched some cooking competition show where Chefs competed for a prize and one of the challenges was to make risotto. Long story short, none of the Chefs did very well and as a result, the audience believes that risotto is difficult to make; not true, I mean come one, it’s rice for goodness sake.
Here’s the deal, like everything in life if you go into it intimidated and overwhelmed, it will inevitably win; in the kitchen, you are the commander, you are the boss, the food does not control you, you control the food. Making risotto is not at all hard, the trick is to be prepared, have all of your ingredients measured and ready to go because one rule stands true, if you commit to making risotto, you are then committed to it for the next thirty minutes of your life, you may not leave, you may not multi task, you must stir… but really stirring is not hard.
Anyhoo, the following is a basic recipe for risotto, I will likely post more complex and exciting versions but lets start here. This recipe is delicious and rich and buttery and goes incredibly well with grilled chicken or pork or on it’s own. Specifically speaking, risotto takes 27 minutes precisely, the basic principle behind it is that the starch in the rice is manipulated to thicken the liquid and create a sauce while allowing the rice to cook perfectly al dente. Look for whole grains of rice, not mushy or broken but rather al dente and individual, the final dish should puddle slightly but not be soupy.
Buttery Leek Risotto
Makes 6-8 Servings
6 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Tbsp Better than bouillon Chicken
2 Tbsp Butter, divided into 1 tbsp each
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2/3 Cups white wine or vermouth
1 Cup leeks, cleaned and finely chopped
2 2/3 Cups Arborio Rice
2 Tbsp Good quality Parmesan, grated
1 Tbsp Fresh Flatleaf Parsley, chopped
To get started, prepare all ingredients. Wash and chop leeks, measure out stock and heat in a saucepan on medium/low heat until simmering, measure out rice and set aside, chop parsley, grate Parmesan, measure wine and have bouillon, butter and oil on hand.
In a large, heavy bottom saucepan, heat oil and 1 tbsp of butter over medium heat until melted. Add leeks and sweat until they are tender, approx 3-5 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat each grain with some of the fat, the rice will look shinier. Cook for approx 2 minutes. Add vermouth/wine to the pan and reduce heat to medium/low. Allow the vermouth/wine to absorb into the rice while stirring slowly but continuously, this should take approx. 1-2 minutes.
Once the wine has been absorbed, add one cup of warm chicken stock to the rice, stir slowly and continuously until the stock is absorbed to the point where a wooden spoon can draw a line on the bottom of the pot.
Add one cup of stock and continue to stir repeating this cycle until the rice is al dente and all the stock has been used. Always continue to stir in a slow, continuous fashion until most of the liquid that was added is absorbed and the risotto is quite thick, this should take approx. 30 minutes. Once all stock is used and the risotto is a nice thick, saucy dish, not soupy, turn off the heat and add the remaining tbsp. butter and the flat leaf parsley and stir to incorporate. Serve in a shallow bowl on it’s own or with grilled chicken or pork.
FYI, if you make this dish for friends, they are most likely under the impression that risotto is hard, so make sure to pat yourself on the back at how incredibly talented you are to pull off such a difficult dish for your guests. I hope you enjoy this exceptionally difficult dish 🙂
Please check out how to elevate this recipe into Arancini