Where did you eat your first risotto? Was it at that family Italian restaurant in Rosettenville or Durbanville? Was it cooked by a friend for a dinner part from a Jamie Oliver’s cookbook? Was it a classic risotto from the maestro of all Italian cooking, Marcella Hazan, practised at your cooking class? Or, was it just you dreaming that Gordon Ramsay had cooked a risotto, especially for you?
If you have never eaten a version of this famous North Italian rice dish cooked in broth, you will be in for a sensory treat with any of the risotto recipes on our Spekko website.
It is actually not tricky at all to cook this dish if you have some of the key ingredients: a good quality rice, some butter, olive oil, an onion, garlic, a glass of wine, a pot of warm, preferably home-made stock, and of course, flavour-additions of your choice. Most importantly, a good, thick-bottomed pot and a wooden spoon are essential.
The best Spekko Rice variants to cook up a perfect risotto, is our Long Grain Parboiled Rice and also our Saman Brown Rice. A proper Italian risotto calls for a white, short grain rice – with a robust core that will not overcook and an outer shell that will absorb the flavour.
As opposed to Spekko Royal Umbrella Jasmine Rice and Spekko Saman White Rice – both which are sticky white rice – the long grain and brown will withstand the continual stirring that a risotto requires. In short – they have the “stamina” to live up to the job.
In Italy, Arborio rice or any of the other white, short grain rice variants grown there, is used.
The one rule of a good risotto is not to overcook your rice. It must still be firm to the bite – or as the Italians like to say, “al dente”. The dish, however, must be creamy. It is eaten with a fork or spoon and served up in a risotto or bistro bowl.
It is more or less standard that in Italy, a risotto is served during the primo (first course) of the meal.
The basic method of cooking a risotto is as follows:
- Heat your stock on the stove.
- In a separate, heavy-bottomed pot, heat equal quantities of butter and olive oil.
- Add a chopped onion and sauté until just soft. This mixture is called a “soffrito”.
- Add the rice and coat it with a film of the butter and oil.
- Add the stock, a half a cup at a time, and stir, cooking on a low heat, until the stock is absorbed. Repeat until the stock is finished. Do not overcook – the rice will keep on cooking even when off the heat.
- A minute before serving, add some grated Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
Many top chefs add a glass of white or red wine, or vermouth before the stock. This, they say, offsets the butter. Even better to add, if you are a big spender, is real champagne.
Famous risotto dishes, which you should master, include:
- Risotto a la Milanese. It includes saffron, diced pancetta and black pepper.
- Mushroom risotto. Prepare with dried, hydrated mushrooms.
- Risotto with peas and asparagus.
- A seafood risotto with prawns.
- A squid ink risotto.
- Risotto flavoured with fresh basil.
- Risotto with roasted bone marrow and saffron.
Serve it as a dish on its own, or as an accompaniment to a meat dish. Risotto Milanese for example is served traditionally with Osso Buco (Slow cooked beef shin with or without tomato).
Use leftover risotto to make Arancini’s – another delicious Italian culinary invention.
Spekko guideline to good cooking:
- Keep it simple and use only the best quality ingredients.
- Remember – Spekko Rice variants are all gluten free.