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     How to Make Risotto
       excerpted from Light Basics Cookbook Copyright © 1999 by Martha Rose Shulman

    How to Make Risotto

    I debated with myself about including risotto in a basic cookbook. Risotto won. I have never found it difficult to make, even when I was a beginner. And it's a great, substantial, impressive, and delicious dish for the low-fat cook. It intimidates some because it requires tending, but it isn't really finicky—you just have to stir it a lot. Risotto is a creamy, savory rice dish made with short-grain Italian Arborio rice, which has a roundish, chewy grain. It can be very simple—rice, stock, a little onion, and Parmesan—or it can contain vegetables, seafood, and other seasonings like saffron and herbs. It's a great dish for putting vegetables like asparagus, peas, mushrooms, or green beans to use. And it is incredibly versatile—I have made it with pumpkin, fennel, sweet peppers, radicchio, greens, favas, and fish.

    Risotto is made by cooking rice slowly in a fragrant broth. First you cook the rice, often with a bit of onion and perhaps some garlic, in a little butter or olive oil (a lot, in traditional recipes) to separate the grains. Then you add a bit of wine, which adds great flavor to the rice. When the rice has absorbed the wine, you add a ladleful or two of simmering stock, just enough to barely cover the rice, and stir the rice until it has absorbed most of the stock. You keep adding stock gradually in this way until the rice is cooked al dente, firm to the bite, which takes about 25 minutes. Then you add one last ladleful and any final enrichments, like Parmesan or a beaten egg, and serve the creamy dish. For most vegetable risottos I usually add the vegetables about halfway through and cook them in the simmering stockalong with the rice.


      RECIPE TITLE Basic Risotto

    Makes 4 side-dish servings or 2 very generous main-dish servings

    About 4 cups vegetable, garlic, or defatted chicken stock (pages 155-157), orcanned broth, as needed
    1 tablespoon olive oil or unsalted butter
    1/2 small onion, peeled and minced (about 1/4 cup)
    1 cup Arborio rice
    1/4 cup dry white wine
    Salt to taste
    1 large egg (optional), beaten
    1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/4 cup)
    Freshly ground black pepper to taste

    1. Have the stock simmering over low heat in the saucepan.

    2. Heat the oil or butter over medium heat in the skillet and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until the grains of rice are separate and beginning to crackle, 1 to 2 minutes.

    3. Stir in the wine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly The wine should bubble, but not too quickly-you want some of the flavor to cook into the rice before it evaporates. When the wine has just about evaporated, stir in a ladleful or two of the simmering stock, enough to just cover the rice. The stock should bubble slowly Cook, stirring often, until it is just about absorbed. Add another ladleful of the stock and continue to cook in this fashion, not too fast and not too slowly, adding more stock when the rice is almost dry, for 20 to 25 minutes. Taste a bit of the rice. Is it cooked through? It should taste chewy but not hard in the middle and definitely not soft like steamed rice. If it is still hard in the middle, you need to add another ladleful of stock and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Now is the time to ascertain if there is enough salt. Add if necessary.

    4. Add another small ladleful of stock to the rice. Beat together the optional egg and the Parmesan, stir into the rice, and immediately remove from the heat (if not using the egg, just stir in the Parmesan with the last ladleful of stock). Season with pepper, taste one last time, and adjust the salt. The rice should be creamy. Stir for a couple of seconds and serve.

    Variation: You can add I to 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed, after cooking the onion for 3 minutes, along with the rice.

    Advance preparation: I've experimented with cooking risotto halfway through, then returning to the dish and finishing it just before serving, with good results. Several hours before serving, you can begin the risotto and cook halfway through step 3, that is, for about 15 minutes. The rice should still be hard when you remove it from the heat. Fifteen minutes before serving, resume cooking as instructed.

    Per Serving:
    5.8 gm total fat
    1.9 gm saturated fat
    292 calories
    49.0 gm carbohydrates
    7.2 gm protein

    Light Basics Cookbook
    Light Basics Cookbook Martha Rose Shulman teaches healthy low-fat cooking with comprehensive how-tos, basic recipes and fundamental no-fat techniques plus 250 flavorful international recipes. Nutrition counts.

    Mario Batali Risotto Pot, Pesto
    Mario Batali Risotto Pot, Pesto Copco, a leading manufacturer of kitchenware products, has joined forces with award-winning chef Mario Batali to create The Italian Kitchen, a unique line of kitchen tools and serveware. The elegant and functional assortment draws on the best of Copco's design and manufacturing experience and Mario's cooking expertise. The result - a perfect blend of classic quality and contemporary function - addresses the needs of all consumers, from kitchen novices to experienced cooks. These are the tools that Mario wants in his kitchen. You'll want them in your kitchen too.

    Risotto Risotto, one of today's most popular restaurant dishes, is actually one of the easiest to make at home. meaning little rice, risotto is an Italian dish featuring tender arborio rice slowly cooked in broth and flavored with meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, shellfish, cheese or herbs. The result is rice that is delectably creamy while the grains remain separate and firm. Risotto begins with an explanation of the principles of making the Italian specialty-cook it slowly, stir continuously, and maintain the correct heat and moisture-then follows with an inspiring selection of more than 100 variations to suit all tastes and occasions.

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