Risotto is the go-to dish in my kitchen. Once the weather turns cool, I make it nearly once a week for supper. The secret to good risotto is in the basics: quality arborio rice, good chicken or vegetable broth, and patience. Basic risotto is an always pleasing supper but sometimes I change up the formula, and that brings us to the topic of today's posting: a lesson in the making of risotto primavera.
First, the list of ingredients:
1 cup arborio rice
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, warmed
3 tablespoons butter (or olive oil)
1 thread of saffron
1 tablespoon each black pepper, oregano, and basil
½ cup yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
splash of white wine (an extra glass for the cook is also advisable)
fresh grated parmesan, to taste
You need a good quality heavy pan for the making of risotto. I use a Calphalon non-stick pan, but non-stick isn't essential.
Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and add mushrooms, pepper, oregano and basil. Saute for 1-2 minutes, just until the mushrooms begin to release their juices.
Remove the mushrooms to a separate bowl, melt another tablespoon of butter, and add the onions. Stir to mix with remnants of the mushrooms; add the saffron thread. The goal here is to coat the onions in the butter, not to brown them, so keep stirring.
After 2-3 minutes, add the third tablespoon of butter and when it melts, stir in the rice. Keep stirring for the next minute. When the rice is coated in the melted butter, set a timer for 25 minutes and pour in some of the chicken broth. Add enough broth to cover the rice and onions, and stir it well. Don't drown the rice.
Stir periodically and when nearly all of the liquid is absorbed (it should look like this), pour in more liquid. Keep stirring and adding liquid; the rice should begin to swell with the liquid you are adding. The pan should be gently simmering; you may need to lower the heat on the burner just slightly.
Add broth as needed, keep stirring and keep an eye on the timer. When you're down to 6 minutes, add in the last of the broth and the carrots and broccoli (I like the veggies slightly crispy ----- it's a California thing ----- if you prefer sofet veggies, add a few minutes earlier). Stir, stir, stir and let the veggies steam in the rice and broth.
When the timer is down to 2 minutes, stir in the reserved mushrooms and liquid and the splash of white wine; keep stirring as the last of the liquid is absorbed. The rice should have a creamy texture.
Serve with freshly grated parmesan to taste. With a salad and bread, this dish will nicely serve 4 people for supper. Or, like me, you could make it for yourself (JT won't touch the stuff) and enjoy the leftovers for in your lunchbox for the next couple of days.
And a final word: you can omit the veggies and spices and make plain risotto with the onion, rice, saffron, and chicken broth. Cheap, easy, and yummy.