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You know, I’m a proud Sicilian woman, but I need to confess that one of my favourite dish is the risotto, a classic of the northern of Italy cuisine.
Is there something more comforting than a creamy and silky bowl of risotto in a winter day? I find also that there is something relaxing in stirring with a wooden spoon a pot with the risotto, chatting with family and friends.
To be honest, it’s not easy to serve a perfectly cooked risotto.
But, as I always say during my cooking classes, the only way to improve your technique is trying and trying again – and this is a delicious job for sure – following my easy tips.
Choosing the right rice is basic. My favourite one is the Carnaroli for its high level in starch. Please don’t wash the rice, you will lost all the starch and your rice will absorb too much liquid becoming sticky.
Soffritto or fondo… in other words onion! Very very thinly chopped and cooked at low heat until soft, never brown.
Tostatura. Do you ever hear about this? When the onion will be nice soft it’s the time to add the rice – about 60/70 g. per person, stirring constantly in order to avoid to burn it. How to understand when the rice is toasted ? You will need about 2 minutes, the rice will become translucent and, if you touch it, very hot.
Also, while stirring it, you will hear its sound changing…
Why is this step important? Toasting the rice is like to cover it with a shell and this keep the shape and texture of you rice. We can say then the tostatura make the difference between a proper risotto and a simple boiled rice.
Wine. You find it in any traditional recipe, personally I’m not a big fan of it. I don’t find a good reason to use it, on the other side I don't want to risk to have a strong acid note in my risotto. Anyway, if you decide to use it, let it evaporate very well on a high flame.
When the wine will be evaporate start adding the first ladle of boiling stock. Here we are, the rice will absorb all the stock during the cooking, so you can easily understand how this ingredient is crucial. Cubes or strange powders are not allowed here, preparing a proper rich and flavoured liquid is fundamental.
Stirring or not. The traditional way to cook the risotto is stirring continuously, adding one ladle of stock at time, leaving the rice absorbing the liquid before each addition.
In this way the rice will release starch into the liquid. That's what we want.
Some people loves to experiment different methods in order to avoid to stir it for 17/18 minutes, but, as I wrote before, I believe in this therapeutic action, so I stir my risotto, usually drinking the wine I don’t add in it!
When the rice will be soft but still “al dente” it’s the grand finale moment: the mantecatura. Turn off the heat and add a small quantities of butter (or extra virgin olive oil if you are making a sea food risotto) and parmesan cheese (or other cheese ). Stir it again, of course. In this way we will “fix” the creamy consistency of our risotto.
Cover with a lid. Wait just on minute before serving.
1 litre vegetable stock
1 little onion, thinly chopped
1 knob of butter + 25 g. extra for the mantecatura
400 g. pumpkin, diced in small cubes
350 g. carnaroli rice
3 spoons fresh grated parmesan cheese
salt & pepper
Put the stock in a saucepan over a low heat to keep it hot.
Melt the butter in a heavy pan and add the onion. Cook at low heat until soft and tender.
Add the pumpkin and let it cook for about 20 minutes, adding some stock if necessary.
Turn the heat up and add the rice, stirring it toast for about 2 minutes or until you will see each grain covered with fat and translucent.
Add a good pinch of salt and the first ladle of boiling stock.
Turn the heat down and add another ladleful of stock and cook stirring constantly until it is absorbed into the rice.
Taste for salt and continue until the rice will be cooked, but still al dente.
At the end of the cooking the risotto should have enough liquid to be nice soft.
Turn off the heat and add the rest of the butter and the parmesan cheese stirring vigorously, until they will be melted.
Cover with the lid and wait 1 minute before serving.
If you want to turn this delicious and cheap risotto into a luxury one just add a teaspoon of good white truffle butter at the end of the mantecatura and serve with a spoon of stracciatella cheese on top.