The Motley Monk's recipe for risotto...
Until one has enjoyed a very good risotto, it's easy to think "Oh, it's just rice!"
The Motley Monk suggests "rethinking" rice, because he's learned over the years how the Italians "re-invented" rice like no other culture. Yes, making risotto does take a little more time and effort than does making Uncle Ben's or Minute Rice. But, for this very small amount of effort expended, the difference is akin to ordering an aged, rib eye at Ruth Chris' rather than ordering a cube steak. It's also a great way to involve a guest in putting together final preparations for the meal.
So, The Motley Monk asks "Why settle for less when you can have so much more?" and counsels "Rethink risotto."
The Motley Monk frequently serves risotto to accompany an entrée. Guests at HIH II always enjoy the risotto—the proof being that none is leftover—but they frequently opine that risotto is too difficult or too time-consuming to make.
To overcome those inhibitions, The Motley Monk offers a straight-forward approach for making risotto that makes it possible to serve some very good rice as the base for many delicious meals.
Here's how The Motley Monk make risotto.
First: assemble the ingredients. As pictured below, these include: diced onions, Arborio rice, white wine, parmesan cheese, and butter. Not pictured is the chicken broth being heated in the microwave.
Second: sauté the diced onions in some olive oil, just until they are translucent. Then heat the rice a bit by stirring it into the sautéed onions. The goal is to warm all of the rice kernels, not to char or burn them.
Third: Add the white wine and stir the rice/onion mixture with a wooden spoon until the rice almost completely absorbs the white wine (below left). Then, do the same with the warmed chicken broth, adding one cup at a time. Give the rice/onion/broth mixture a stir every once and a while until the rice incorporates almost all of the broth (below right).
Fourth: once the rice has absorbed most of the liquid, leaving a creamy sauce covering the rice kernels (below left), add the parmesan cheese and butter. Stir well so that the creamy sauce incorporates both well (below right).
The risotto is done when a thick, rich, creamy sauce holds the rice and onions together. The risotto should not be watery but very silky and creamy.
The Motley Monk didn't include a recipe because making a very good risotto is more of an "art" than it is a "science" a matter of "touch and sight" than it is "measuring and timing." That said, the total volume of liquid (wine and chicken broth) is generally—but not always exactly—double the volume of rice kernels used.
Et voíla! There you have it...a very good and easily made risotto to accompany practically any entrée.
Once one has this approach to making risotto "under control," that's when making risotto becomes fun. There's nothing like a wild mushroom and leek risotto to accompany veal shanks. Or, use beef broth and instead of using onions, try sliced fennel and sliced button mushrooms. And, for a very good dessert, use water rather than stock, add some vanilla, sugar, a touch of salt, and some dried cherries or raisins. Let your imagination be your guide!
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