I love risotto. People tend to think it’s fussy, or hard to pull off, but really, it’s easy to do right. It just requires a lot of attention and stirring. So, in the interest of converting more risotto-phobes to risotto lovers, I’m going to give you a step-by-step on how to make perfect risotto every time.
I made a lovely spring risotto this week, with asparagus, peas, leeks and green garlic, but the basic steps are the same no metter what recipe you’re using. Read to the bottom for the Risotta alla Primavera recipe, but let’s get the technique down first. Are you ready to stir?
1. Bring your broth to a boil , lower the heat, and cover it. It’s essential that you keep the broth warm throughout the process.
2. Melt your butter over medium-low heat in a large sauepan. I usually use equal parts butter and olive oil, but you can switch it up if you like. Stir in your alliums (onions, leeks, garlic) and saute them until softened, about 5-6 minutes.
3. Stir in your rice. Make sure you are using arborio rice (sometimes called risotto rice), since you need all the extra starch to make the risotto really creamy. Stir it around and toast it up for about a minute.
4. Add the wine. Most recipes call for white wine, but some use red wine, and if you want to mix it up (or you just don’t want to open a bottle for some strange reason), you can substitute dry vermouth. Stir it until it’s evaporated, about a minute.
5. Add the broth a couple of ladles at a time. At the beginning, I’ll add two ladles (about a cup) at a time, and stir until it’s all absorbed. Once it’s absorbed, add a couple more ladles. Repeat until the rice is about halfway cooked, about 9 minutes. I still set a timer. Stir, stir, stir. Do not leave the stovetop!
6. Stir some more. If you have any slower-cooking veggies, or if you’re using anything frozen, add them in about halfway through the 9 minutes.
7. After the rice is halfway cooked, add your veggies. Stir, stir, stir.
8. At this point, I generally start adding broth just one ladleful at a time (about 1/2 cup), because it keeps me standing right there the whole time, and stirring. Keep stirring.
9. After about 6 more minutes, test the rice. It should be mostly cooked, but still have a bit of a firm bite to it. Good.
10. Keep going for a couple minutes more. Test again — the rice should be creamy and perfectly done.
11. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in your cheese, butter and/or cream.
12. Add salt and pepper to taste, serve, and enjoy!
Now that we’ve got the technique down, how about that recipe? What a fabulous showcase for spring veggies this risotto is!
It doubled as a clean-out-the-fridge meal for me, too, since I had leeks, green garlic and parsley hanging out in my crisper just begging to be used. It is also Nora-approved.
What else can I say? Just try it.
- 6½ cups (about) vegetable broth
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 medium leeks (white and light green parts only), sliced crosswise into thin rings
- 2 stalks green garlic, chopped, or 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 cups arborio rice
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 cup 1-inch pieces thin asparagus
- 1 cup freshly shelled small peas*
- ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
- Bring broth to simmer in medium saucepan. Cover and keep warm over low heat.
- Melt 1 Tbsp of the butter with the olive oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, leek, and garlic. Sauté until wilted and almost tender, about 6 minutes.
- Add the rice. Cook, stirring, until the rice is translucent at the edges but still opaque in the center, about 3 minutes.
- Add the wine and stir until almost all the liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute.
- Add the broth 1 cup at a time until the rice is about half cooked, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding next and stirring often. This should take about 9 minutes. If you are using frozen peas, stir them in about halfway through this cooking time.
- Stir in the asparagus, peas (if using fresh) and parsley. Continue ladling broth and stirring until the rice is almost tender, about 6 minutes longer.
- Cook until the rice is tender but still firm to bite and the mixture is creamy, about 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat.
- Add ¾ cup cheese and the remaining 2 Tbsp butter. Stir until the cheese and butter melt. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, passing additional cheese alongside.