I’m so glad risotto is enjoying a lot of attention at restaurants right now – the rice dish is comfort food like no other, and it really isn’t too difficult to make. In fact, you can whip some together with whatever you have handy – the only non-negotiable ingredients are rice, stock and cheese.
And the best part is, once you have the handle of it you can play with the ingredients and make it however you want, any old weeknight you please.
Here’s what you need:
- 1 1/2 cups short grain rice – can be white or brown. White is traditional, brown is better for you but will take longer to cook.
- About 4 cups of stock – you can easily trade out some of it for white wine, but I wouldn’t do more than a cup.
- Any combination of vegetables you have in the house – onion and garlic especially. This time I went with a few carrots, a handful of frozen peas, a leek and several cloves of garlic.
- Bay leaves
- Parmesan cheese (hard cheeses are best for this – I suppose you could slice fresh mozzarella on top with some basil, but don’t grate it and melt it into the rice. And definitely don’t use cheddar).
To begin, melt a tablespoon of butter into a hot skillet and begin sauteeing your veggies.
After you’ve given them a few minutes to soften, add the rice, but don’t add any liquid yet! Sautee the rice until the grains appear a little translucent around the edges.
If it gets too dry in the pan, you can add a little bit more butter. Once your rice looks like this, it’s time to add the liquid.
Add the liquid one or two cups at a time, and add your bay leaf now, too. Bring the pan to a simmer and put the lid on. Basically, you are cooking the rice like you normally would, but with stock instead of water. Once most of the stock/wine has cooked in, you can add another cup. Keep adding cups and letting them simmer until absorbed until the rice is soft and totally done. If you run out of stock and/or wine, water is fine to use.
Just before serving, shave about 1/4 cup of Parmesan or Pecorino over the rice and stir it in. It will melt and turn your rice into cheesy, gooey goodness.