The first time I heard about Risotto, my first thought was, ‘So, the Italians make khichadi too!’ And indeed it is just that. But so much cooler! I mean, one puts wine in it. And cheese. And asparagus.
I am, by no means, any kind of authority on risotto. The packet of Arborio rice came home from the supermarket and sat on the pantry shelves for a good two months before I summoned up the courage to have a shot at cooking risotto. It is admittedly not a breeze to make – the process might be simple, but it is laborious and requires some planning. And when cooking with ingredients one has never used before, one can never be quite sure what to expect. So I did what anyone with an internet connection does – I googled.
It is a creamy preparation, with much of the creaminess being derived from the rice and the cooking process itself. Wikipedia says that it is one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy, so it must be! The best sort of rice for a risotto seems to be a high starch, medium or short grained rice which have the ability to absorb the liquid and get sticky without becoming a complete mush. The end product is supposed to be rich and creamy, but the grains should still be separate. I’m not sure which variety of Indian rice might be suited for this preparation, but I did see a few recipes which called for brown rice. We enjoyed our dish of risotto so much that it will be very much worth my while to experiment with different varieties of rice once we’re back in India.
Prep time : 1 hour
Overnight soaking required
Serves : 2
WHAT YOU NEED :
1 cup Arborio rice
3 cups Chicken stock or Vegetable stock, home-made or store-bought, low sodium kind
8-10 spears of Asparagus, diced
1 medium Onion, finely chopped
1 clove of Garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry, white Wine
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
Cracked Pepper and salt to taste
WHAT YOU DO:
- Wash and soak the rice overnight. It should fatten up to measure almost a cup and half after soaking.
- Combine the chicken stock (or vegetable stock, if you prefer to keep it vegetarian) with an equal amount of water and bring it to a boil. After that, turn the heat to very low, to just keep it hot.
- Melt the butter in a large, deep saucepan and add the chopped onions and garlic. Saute till the onion becomes translucent but not brown.
- Add the rice and mix it will so that all the grains are covered with the butter.
- Lower the heat to medium-low and add the wine. Stir it often till all of it is absorbed.
- Add a third of the hot diluted stock. Keep stirring once in a while till all of it is absorbed in the rice, about 10-15 minutes.
- After that add one cup of stock at a time, and stir. After about 15-20 minutes, when the rice grain seems almost cooked to the bite, add the asparagus and season with salt and pepper.
- Once risotto is cooked to desired done-ness, stir in the cheese and remove from the heat. Serve immediately.
The overnight soaking is very necessary to reduce the cooking time.
All recipes I read stressed the importance of stirring to achieve the creamy texture, and I stuck to it. Be my guest if you want to stick it all in a pressure cooker and see what happens!
I had a delicious garlic and herb flavoured goat cheese which we picked up from a gourmet food festival a few months ago, languishing in the fridge. I stirred that in at the last moment, and didn’t mix it in completely. It added a very delightful little surprise in some spoonfuls.