Here are the secrets:
- Get organized before you start cooking. Get all the ingredients you might use out so you know what you've got to work with. You'll need olive oil, onion, stock or broth and a short grain rice like Arborio. You might also want some good quality Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, butter, herbs, meat and vegetables, even leftovers work.
- You're going to need a fairly hot stove. I usually find that medium high heat works great once things get started.
- Keep an eye on the stove once you start cooking. Risotto needs stirred frequently, but I don't think it needs to be stirred constantly, especially if the heat is not too high.
- Finally, most important, taste it! The only way you'll know to adjust the seasonings or if it's done is to taste it.
Today's risotto took some help from some left over roasted butternut squash and fennel bulb that I had roasted to go with last night's pork loin. I roast vegetables regularly -- carrots, broccoli, potatoes, etc, and it's pretty much the same technique whatever I'm roasting. Preheat the oven to 400-425º. Prep the vegetable by chopping them into similar sizes so they will cook evenly. Toss them with enough olive oil to coat them and season with salt and pepper, and put them in a single layer and place in the hot oven. After 20-30 minutes, stir the the pan to assure that none of the vegetables are sticking to the pan and to expose more surfaces to the hot dry heat of the oven. They should be done after 60-80 minutes. Yes it feels like a long time. The house will smell great as the edges of the vegetables caramelize and turn golden brown. (Note: asparagus cooks faster, only about 20 minutes.)
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
- 2 cups heated chicken stock (Note: I always have a kettle of hot water on the stove, just in case I need a little more liquid)
- 2 cups chopped roasted butternut squash and fennel
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 Tbl butter
- Heat 1 Tbs olive oil in pan over medium high heat
- Add onion, salt to season, stir 5-7 min until onion is translucent
- Add garlic and rice to pan and stir over heat for 2-3 min.
- Add wine and stir til wine is mostly absorbed. The pan is hot, so this will happen very quickly.
- Add simmering stock one ladle at a time to rice mixture, stir. Add more stock when mixture no longer has liquid sitting on the bottom of the pan.
- After about 15 min, add roasted butternut squash and fennel
- After about 20 min. when mixture begins to look creamy and rice is softened, taste for seasoning and consistency. Continue
Saute onion, garlic and rice
- Lower heat to low, add cheese and butter and stir to blend
- Garnish with chopped herbs and serve hot.