Updated: Aug 14, 2020
This saffron scented Italian classic is an elegant and sophisticated take on rice, which is a definite impresser and a formal dinner must. Like pasta, risotto can be made in large batches, and unlike most things in large quantities, this dish brings flavor, aroma, and texture all in one.
Risotto is a northern Italian dish cooked by incrementally adding hot broth to rice to slowly cook the rice and other vegetables. This technique can be used for many grains, such as orzo, quinoa, and oats.
This recipe uses wine. No, I don't drink. I'm a kid. Don't get mad. The alcohol burns off. The wine adds an acidic note to this rich dish, and helps elevate and increase the aroma of the dish. What I can tell you, from what I know, is that wine is good for cooking, not for drinking at a young age.
Risotto is something that requires attended time in front of the stove. You have to keep stirring it for 20-25 minutes straight. If you left the risotto even for 4 minutes unattended, the rice would most likely stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
500g box of arborio rice
3 cups stock (can be vegetable, chicken, beef, etc.)
Pinch of saffron threads - gives a luxurious, sweet scent and a golden red hue
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp chopped basil
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup white wine (preferably sauvignon blanc or chardonnay)
Start by soaking the saffron threads in a small bowl of hot water. This will help the saffron infuse into the water and bring out its sweet, rich smell.
Heat olive oil in a large stainless steel skillet over medium-low heat. Once wisps of smoke appear, add onions and garlic, and cook for 1-2 minutes until soft, but not brown.
Add rice in. Cook for 1 minute to toast the rice lightly; do not brown the rice. Add in white wine, and scrub off the bottom of the pan to remove anything that may have stuck. This is called fond, and is a concentrated flavor of the vegetables, which should not be wasted when cooking. Once the wine has almost cooked off, slowly add in 1/4 cup of stock at a time. Stir vigorously and season with salt and pepper. Keep in mind that the cheese will be salty too.
Continue adding stock in gradual increments until rice is cooked to your liking. Finally, add stir in basil, saffron and cheese until completely melted. Traditionally, risotto is cooked to a toothsome feel (al dente). If you like your rice at that stage, the dish will only take about 20 minutes. If you prefer your rice soft and melt-in-your-mouth, an additional 5 minutes will be necessary.
Once all ingredients have been incorporated, optionally drizzle some olive oil over the final dish and garnish with fried sage or basil.