Whether it's a filling supper or a delicious lunch, risotto makes a winning dish. To make sure it appeals though, you need to follow a few pointers on how to make a basic risotto.
- Make sure you choose the right rice. Italian arborio rice, with its smooth rounded grains, is the traditional favourite, but carnaroli rice is more forgiving if you have a tendency to overcook.
- Sweat onions and finely-chopped celery with a little garlic in a mixture of butter and olive oil. Add the rice after about 10 minutes and coat the grains gently.
- Add a little white wine or vermouth at this stage, and allow the alcohol to steam off.
- Now add your stock, a little at a time, allowing the grains to soak up the liquid gradually and expand as they cook. Chicken stock is ideal for most recipes. Vegetable stock cubes can be too salty, so it's better to make your own.
- It's important to test your risotto at regular intervals. You want grains with a little bite to them, not a soggy pudding.
- Don't be tempted to throw too many ingredients into a risotto. It's better to regard the rice dish as a platform for showcasing one star ingredient, perhaps asparagus, wild mushrooms or shellfish. Finely-diced vegetables look more elegant than hearty chunks.
- Season with plenty of black pepper and parmesan cheese, although your stock should provide the base seasoning and flavour for the rice.
- Allow the risotto to rest for a few minutes before serving. Accompany with a crisp salad and a chilled white wine.