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AN OVERFLOW OF OUR ROADTRIP ITALIAN : HOW TO MAKE RISOTTO

We really should be making a post about our Italian Roadtrip. That can wait, can't it. We are still exhausted from the trip and need some time to rest and relax before we relive the moment through the pictures. It really was a good 2 weeks of visual overload and as well 'tourist-crowd' overload. Surely we are tourists too, but one really get drained of energy when one tries to brave through a crowd.

Anyway, enough of ranting. We bought a packet of risotto rice in Italy, thinking we were going to prepare it our agriturismo. How difficult can cooking rice be anyway? We are from the tropics. As you can imagine, risotto is not easy to prepare and thus we brought that packet back with us. 

We recently made fennel risotto. It was a success, but we would try with strong flavours next time, like mushrooms or seafood.

Here is how to make risotto from About.

Risotto is a traditional Italian rice dish made from a short-grained, starchy variety of rice called arborio rice. It's prepared using a technique that's come to be known as the risotto method, which involves stirring small amounts of hot stock (like chicken stock) or broth into the rice a little at a time, allowing the liquid to be absorbed. While it cooks, the rice releases its starch, giving the risotto a rich, creamy consistency.

Like pasta, risotto is cooked until it is al dente, which means that it should be slightly firm to the bite — a degree of doneness that might seem underdone in ordinary white rice. It shouldn't be crunchy, though.

For each cup of uncooked rice you'll need about 4 cups of hot chicken stock. Keep the stock hot in a small saucepan at a low simmer over a separate burner from the one you'll be using to cook the risotto. You'll also need a small (e.g. 6 oz.) ladle for adding the hot stock.
Tip: Use a wooden spoon for stirring the risotto — it's less likely to break the grains of rice than a metal spoon.

Sweat Chopped Onion in Hot Butter and Oil
To begin, heat 1 Tbsp of unsalted butter and 1 Tbsp vegetable oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan or straight-sided sauté pan, then add about ½ cup of finely chopped onion. Cook until the onion is somewhat translucent.

Add Uncooked Rice
Add about 1 cup of uncooked arborio rice and stir briskly, coating the rice grains with the hot butter and oil.

Briefly Saute the Rice
Sauté the rice for a minute or two, until there's a slightly nutty aroma. The rice shouldn't look brown or toasted, though.

Add Wine and Cook Until Absorbed
Add about a half cup of dry white wine to the rice and stir until it is is fully absorbed. The wine livens up the flavors of the risotto. Any dry white table wine will do. If you have some vermouth handy, that would be a good choice.

Add a Ladle of Hot Stock
Add a ladle of hot chicken stock to the rice and stir until the liquid is fully absorbed. When the rice appears almost dry, add another ladle of stock and repeat the process.

Note: It's important to stir constantly, especially as the liquid gets absorbed, to prevent scorching, and add the next ladle as soon as the rice is almost dry.

Continue Adding Hot Stock While the Risotto Becomes Creamy
Continue adding ladles of hot stock and stirring the rice while the liquid is absorbed. As it cooks, you'll see that the rice will take on a creamy consistency as it begins to release its natural starches.

Cook 20-30 Minutes
Total cooking time will be 20-30 minutes. The risotto is done when it's al dente, meaning that the grains are tender but still firm to the bite, without being crunchy.

Remember, a cup of uncooked arborio rice should absorb 3-4 cups of stock, but if for some reason you've added 4 cups of stock and the risotto still isn't done, you can finish the cooking using hot water instead of stock. Just add the water as you did with the stock, a ladle at a time, stirring while it's absorbed.

Finish with Butter and Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
Stir in another 2 Tbsp unsalted butter and about ¼ cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese. You can also stir in some freshly chopped Italian parsley. Adjust the seasoning with Kosher salt.

Serve Risotto Right Away
Risotto turns glutinous if held for too long, so it should be served immediately. A properly cooked risotto should form a soft, creamy mound on a dinner plate. It shouldn't run across the plate, nor should it be stiff or gluey.

This is our attempt. We used a chicken stock cube instead of making fresh chicken stock because... well, what happens if our first attempt of risotto fails? We didn't use wine because this is peasant food and people don't usually cook with wine in the past. This first attempt turned out well. The rice is very starchy to an extent of creaminess. This creaminess actually overpowered the taste of the fennel. We will indeed use stronger flavors next time. Have fun.

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