The minute I got home from work today, I baked a loaf of bread.  It was to go with the risotto that I decided I had to have while making my 4-minute commute.  (It can actually be as much as 5 minutes if it’s snowing and I miss the light.)  I did a mental check-list and figured I had what I needed.

Actually… the only things one really needs for risotto is the rice and parmesan cheese.  Everything else is just an add-on.

Risotto is one of those dishes that really impresses – but is totally simple to prepare.  30 minutes start-to-finish and you can have a really fabulous meal on the table.

And anything can go in it!

The basic is 2 cups arbrio, carnaroli, or vialone nano rice.  The most common is arborio, but I do have a penchant for carnaroli because it is almost impossible to overcook it.  Vialone nano is slightly smaller and cooks faster and absorbs flavors better.  I actually buy all of them and will pick up whichever one strikes my fancy when I’m shopping.  They all work.

And then a cup of (usually) white wine, 7 cups of hot broth, and a cup of shredded parmesan.

The fun comes with the fillings.

Literally anything can go into risotto and I have put literally anything in them.  They can be great clean-out-the-‘fridge-dishes.  And they are totally stellar with a lightly-poached or fried egg on top.  The yolk running down into the dish…..  Gastronomic heaven.

I almost always start with onions or leeks, a couple cloves of garlic, and mushrooms.  Tonight I went without garlic just because.  I also used a half-cup of marsala with a half-cup of water because  – horrors – we had no white wine in the house.  So much for my mental check-list.  I also used speck – an Italian smoked prosciutto that I had in the freezer.

Quick Risotto

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups carnaroli rice
  • 4 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 4 oz speck, cubed
  • 1/2 cup marsala mixed with 1/2 cup water
  • 7 cups hot chicken stock
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1/2 lb thick asparagus, cut in bite-sized pieces
  • 6 oz cooked langostino
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Add butter to a large risotto pan.  Stir in leeks, mushrooms, and speck and cook, stirring often, about 3-4 minutes.  Add rice and stir well to coat rice grains with butter.  Cook about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until rice begins to get translucent.

Add marsala/water mixture and stir until liquid is almost gone.  Add hot broth one ladle at a time.  Stir continually until liquid is almost fully absorbed before adding next ladle.  Repeat untilyou have used about 3/4 of the liquid.

Add the asparagus and peas and mix in well.

Continue adding broth until rice is cooked.  I usually will use all of the broth.  Sometimes you may not need it all.

When everything is looking good, add the langostino and stir until they are heated through.

Stir in the cheese and parsley, and taste for seasoning.

This is Italian comfort-food.  Rich and creamy with an incredible flavor.  You can add and number of vegetables, change the wine, add different seafood, sausages, chicken, beef, or pork, make it completely vegetarian…  the sky’s the limit.

This makes a lot – easily dinner for 4-6.  I have lots of leftovers and Victor will probably have some for lunch tomorrow and I’m planning on making risotto patties tomorrow night!