Risotto is a typical Italian dish. It’s an elaborated version on cooking rice (often in other parts of the world we see simply boiled rice served as a side dish).
Despite of its simple form and looks, the risotto is not so easy to cook, but totally worthwhile and mostly gratifying.
One or two minutes of overcooking can ruin a dish that otherwise would have been perfect. The same counts for pasta in that matter.
Be present for your risotto
So be profoundly present during the making of your risotto.
This recipe comes from my dear friend Sabrina Corti (like a couple of other traditional Italian recipes on this blog, see also Potato gnocchi della nonna and Hidden marmalade tart).
Risotto is a favorite dish at her home, and she says: “I just need to watch it to understand that it’s ready. But of course, this comes with practice, so please taste the rice attently by the end of cooking time.”
This risotto version is very colorful and inviting. The soft hint of the beautifully red beetroot united to the sweet slightly pungy gorgonzola cheese, creates a delightful combination of taste.
- Arborio or Carnaroli rice*
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 small white onion
- dry white wine
- broth of meat or vegetable
- ½ oven cooked beetroot (you will often find it already cooked at the grocery store, markets and supermarkets)
- 2 tbsp grated Parmigiano cheese
- 1-2 tbsp gorgonzola cheese
*Italian short grain rice varieties are the ideal rice for making risotto such as Arborio, Carnaroli, Roma,Vialone Nano and Baldo.
1. Let’s start with the measuring. The rice you measure traditionally….. by handful. 2 handful per person plus one final handful for the skillet. (So if we’re preparing risotto for 4 people, we’ll need 8 handfuls of rice + 1 for the skillet).
2. Heat the butter in a large, high skillet and gently fry the chopped onion in it until soften and lightly golden. It should absolutely not burn.
3. Pour all the rice into the skillet and stir it together with the butter with a wooden spoon until it has absorbed into the rice. Then add a small wine glass of white wine (ca. 200 ml). Continue to stir until all the wine has evaporated.
4. Add a couple of ladlefuls of hot broth to the rice and let it cook in the broth (there is a saying that rice is born and dies in water). Salt the rice with an abundant presa di sale of coarse salt (that by definition is what you can get grip of with 3 fingers (inch, second and third finger).
5. Continue to add broth to the rice, it should lightly cover it, but MOST IMPORTANT, the rice should not swim in the broth. You add more broth to the rice as soon you can see the previous dose has absorbed into the rice.
6. In the meantime cut the beetroot into small pieces and heat in a small skillet with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and salt. Then pass it through the mixer into a soft creamy blend.
7. The risotto needs about 13-15 minutes cooking time. When is your risotto ready? It’s when tasting the rice it resists to your teeth a little bit. Of course it should not have a raw feeling, but resisting and a little bit hard to the teeth al dente as it is called and means literally “to the bite”. If you exceed that feeling, your risotto has failed more or less depending on the overcooking.
8. Turn off the heat and add the beetroot mixture, parmigiano cheese and a butter to the skillet and cover with lid. This procedure is called mantecatura in Italian. During this cooking phase, the rice continues to cook for a couple of minutes in the pan absorbing the butter and cheese. This step is really important in making a good risotto and it’s very important to turn off the heat while the rice is still quite al dente.
9. Distribute the risotto onto 4 plates and top with the gorgonzola cheese and some black pepper to taste and serve.