The secret to preparing great risotto is all about how well the technique is executed. Prepare all of your ingredients and tools in advance and, once you begin to cook, stay right with it. There are five basic steps to preparing this dish: Soffrito, Tostatura, Deglaze, Cottura, Mantecotura. After all ingredients are properly prepped onions, or shallots in this case, are sautéed in oil or butter (Soffrito). Once they become translucent, the rice is added to the pan, tossed to coat with fat and then stirred for about two minutes until you start to smell the toasted rice (Tostatura). White wine is added to the pan to lift and incorporate any bits that have caramelized (Deglaze). It also serves to add another flavor element to the dish. Warm broth is added to the rice in a slow and methodical manner (Cottura). Each ladle is added once the broth has been fully absorbed. This allows the rice to release its starch and create a beautiful, flavorful sauce. The rice is removed from the heat when it becomes al dente and butter, parmesan and other flavor elements are added to the mix (Mantecotura). This may sound a bit time consuming but in reality the risotto will be finished in about 20 minutes. Serve immediately for best results and enjoy this beautiful Italian comfort food.
LEMON AND SAFFRON RISOTTO (Serves 4)
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/8 t. saffron threads
- 2 T. olive oil
- 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
- 1-1/2 cups (about 14 oz.) Arboria rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 3 T. unsalted butter
- 1 T. lemon zest, plus more as needed
- 1 T. fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
- 3 T. thinly slice chives
- 1 cup (2 oz.) shaved parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- Lemon-flavored olive oil, for garnish (optional)
- Pour chicken broth into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer; reduce heat to low, add saffron to the broth and cover.
- To large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat, add oil. When oil is shimmering, add shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add rice and saute, stirring constantly, until rice is evenly coated with oil and translucent around the edge, about 2 minutes. Add wine and cook until pan is almost dry, about 3 more minutes.
- Using a ladle, add about a cup of hot broth to the rice, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium and cook until broth is almost fully absorbed. Add additional broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly and adding more broth only after the previous addition has been absorbed. The risotto is done after about twenty minutes, when it is creamy and the rice grains are plump and tender. Remove from heat and stir in butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, chives and parmesan. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Ladle risotto into 4 warmed, shallow serving dishes. Garnish each with additional parmesan and drizzle with lemon olive oil; serve immediately.
~ Sur la Table ~