I’m contributing risotto to Thanksgiving dinner, and I could not find my piece of paper with the recipe on it! Good thing I posted it online a couple of years ago. Here’s a repost of that post with not only the recipe but how I came to make the best risotto in the entire world.
People often ask me about this recipe because my risotto is FUCKING AMAZING. I keep telling them that the whole thing was a work in progress and the ability to make it exactly like mine depends on several factors, including location. But still, I am not one for keeping amazing food a secret.
First thing I will say is that anyone who doesn’t know jack about risotto should first find the Good Eats episode wherein Alton Brown explains how to make it. It’s called Do The Rice Thing. You don’t need to watch it so much for the recipe, but for his explanation of technique. I try to explain technique and people look at me funny.
The basic recipe comes from Alton, of course, and you can find it here. I do not put in asparagus and random wild mushrooms. I do not use dry white wine. I do not use onion, lemon zest, or nutmeg. I do use the rice, tho!
Here is my recipe, modified from Alton’s:
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth, stock or Pot Liquor
1 cup Barbadillo Oloroso Sherry
2 tablespoons unsalted butter/duck or bacon fat
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups Arborio rice
1-2 cups mushrooms or anything you’d like to try
1 cup meat of some kind
2 ounces grated Pecorino Toscano Fresco
In an electric kettle or medium saucepan with a lid, combine broth and sherry and heat just to simmering. Keep warm. In a large 3 to 4-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter/fat. Add the rice and stir. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the grains are translucent around the edges. Be careful not to allow the grains or the onions to brown.
Reduce the heat to low. Add enough of the sherry and broth just to cover the top of the rice. Stir or move the pan often, until the liquid is completely absorbed into rice. Once absorbed, add another amount of liquid just to cover the rice and continue stirring or moving as before. I usually have to pour in about 4 – 5 times. It should take approximately 35 to 40 minutes for all of the liquid to be absorbed.
After the last addition of liquid has been mostly absorbed, add the mushrooms and whatever else and stir until risotto is creamy. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese. Taste and then season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Interested in the long journey between Alton’s recipe and mine? My risotto started out with all those ingredients (except the onion) and was very tasty. But little things about it bugged me. I didn’t like the tang that the zest or the nutmeg gave it, so I got rid of that quickly. I used to put in leeks instead of mushrooms, but then that tang was back so i dropped it. I’ve never been a fan of asparagus, so, yeah. But Alton said you can put many things in risotto as long as they are already cooked. I really love putting turkey sausage in mine. And the mushrooms.. well..
I didn’t put mushrooms in at first, then my ex-roommate’s father (who lives in France) sent us some fancy French dried mushrooms he’d picked himself. Gourmet stuff, and really lovely. Since they were dried, I’d toss them in during the last stages of cooking to soak up the goodness and OH MY GOD was it delicious. I am so sad that we are down to our very last of the dried mushrooms now all of those lovely mushrooms are gone.
When searching for a replacement, I came across a mushroom at Whole Foods called French Horn (or French Trumpet?) that is the amazingly high price of $20/lb. But I’ll try any fancy mushroom once. And again, OH MY GOD, so good! I chopped it into chunks and sauteed it before putting in the risotto and it came out extremely well, let me tell you.
Other replacements I’ve done – instead of sauteeing the rice (and onions, if you use them) in butter in the beginning, sometimes I do so in duck fat. I get the duck fat from the pan when I cook duck. YMMV. If I am adding some ingredient, like mushrooms, that needs a quick sautee before putting it in, I will do that in duck fat, if I have it, or bacon fat, which, again, comes from the pan when I cook bacon in the oven. Mmmm. If I’ve cooked greens lately, I’ll save the “Pot Liquor” and use that instead of or mixed with broth. I’m also partial to using chicken stock instead of broth.
Two ingredients that have been key to my risotto being really good are the cheese and the white wine replacement.
I’ve tried many cheeses, mainly because Parmesan can be a bit harsh when used in abundance. I was chasing down that weird tangy taste again. I went to several different cheese shops/stalls at the market and have finally pinned down what I like in a risotto cheese. Semi hard (I don’t know why this makes a difference in taste) with a not-strong flavor that will overpower. But you don’t want a weak flavor, either. It has to have characters Also helps if it’s a bit nutty. My current favorite is Pecorino Toscano Fresco.
I used to use random dry white wines until someone at my local liquor warehouse suggested Barbadillo Oloroso Sherry. This stuff smells GREAT but taste like ass if you drink it straight. But when we added it to the risotto it was like a choir of angels came down from the heavens. YES! Oh yes. The last piece in the puzzle. I now had perfectly amazing risotto.
Now, go make some risotto!