Recipe by Rita Held Bitters is a flavor game-changer for sauces. Hum drum mayo plus…
What’s this easier way? Classic risotto recipes have you standing and stirring while gradually adding hot broth to the rice. There is no constant stirring in this recipe. The result is deliciously creamy with al dente rice — just as you’d expect risotto to be. This minimal stirring method was developed by Rita and I for a client some years ago. We’ve been making our risotto this way ever since!
Another risotto variable I learned from an Italian chef is to replace the broth with water. Water may sound bland, but instead emboldens the rice and cheese flavors and whatever vegetable you may add. I find the flavor delightful and more authentic. Asparagus. Fresh or frozen green peas. Mushrooms. Your choice! Don’t forget the swirl of grated Parmesan, Romano or other hard cheese. And always serve with wine! Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc are perfect.
Photo credit Rita Held
- 1 lb. asparagus spears
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups (14.oz) Arborio rice
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 cup white cooking wine or dry white wine
- 4 cups (32 oz.) reduced-sodium chicken broth, warmed in microwave or 4 cups water plus 1 tsp. salt
- 1/3 cup or more, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino-Romano cheese
- 1 Tbsp. grated lemon peel (optional)
- 1/2 tsp. dried sage, marjoram or tarragon
- Vegetable variations: 1-1/2 cups fresh shelled peas, 2 cups sliced mushrooms; 1-1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
- Wash asparagus and break off the tough ends. Cut spears into 1-inch pieces; set aside.
- In a 6-quart pot, melt butter with olive oil. Add rice and onion. If using mushrooms, add now. Over medium-high heat, cook and stir 3-4 minutes, slightly more if adding mushrooms; do not brown the rice.
- Add cooking wine and water or broth. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to low, cover and cook 10 minutes. No need to stir.
- Add asparagus or peas, increase heat slightly and continue to cook uncovered about 3 minutes. Stir now and then. Taste rice to ensure it does not overcook. Rice should be al dente and rather soupy. Stir in cheese, lemon peel and marjoram. Remove from heat and serve immediately. Sprinkle with additional cheese, if desired.
If you prefer to use table wine to make the risotto, use a light pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc or Chablis. After cooking and stirring the rice with the butter, olive oil, onion, and garlic, stir in 1 cup wine. Cook until very creamy and almost all the wine is absorbed–about 2 minutes on medium-high heat.
Then stir in the reduced-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth) and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to low, cover and cook 10 minutes. No need to stir. Add asparagus as directed above. Kitchen Notes:
– The flavors of grated cheeses vary. Start with 1/3 cup, and add more if desired. Serve risotto in 1-cup portions as a side dish or larger portions as a main dish.
– Traditional risotto is very creamy and the rice is firm to the bite. The rice will continue to absorb liquid as it sits.
– Recipe may be halved; use a 4-quart saucepan. Variations:
– Stir in 1/2 cup diced ham or prosciutto along with the cheese, lemon and dried herb.
-Use 2 cups fresh peas (also in season now) in place of asparagus.