Risotto is something many home cooks reserve for restaurant dining because they think it’s difficult to prepare. However, risotto at home need not be intimidating.
Make your first attempt at risotto for a Sunday supper, when you have a little extra time to try something new. Once you have the process down you’ll be whipping it up on even the busiest of weeknights.
Arborio rice is the most common rice used for risotto. This short-grained rice cooks up nice and plump, and it releases lots of starch, which gives risotto its creamy texture. It’s available alongside the other varieties of rice in most supermarkets.
Recently I’ve been using Carolina Gold rice or rice grits, which I order online from Anson Mills (ansonmills.com). The Web site describes this variety of rice as the “grandfather of long grain rice in the Americas.” Both make a great substitute for Arborio rice. If you’ve never heard of rice grits, they’re very small grains of rice that fall from the larger grains during milling. The grains are larger than traditional corn grits.
Risottos start with a flavor base, such as oil and onions or shallots. Here, it begins with onions sauteed in bacon drippings. Once the onions are translucent, the rice is stirred in and cooked for a few minutes to coat it with the fat. Once that is done, a little wine is stirred in and the mixture cooks until almost all of the liquid is absorbed.
The next phase of Risotto-making is a process of adding a small amount of simmering broth to the rice and cooking and stirring, until it is absorbed. Basically, the main work involved in making risotto is stirring.
After about 20 minutes of adding stock to the rice, you’ll have a perfectly creamy risotto that can be served as is. For this Corn and Bacon Risotto, stir in some reserved bacon, fresh corn kernels, green onions, Parmesan cheese and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
This risotto is the perfect base for pan-seared or grilled fish, or it can be served as the main course.