« Reign Over Me | Main | Television »

At My Kitchen Table: Risotto

Risotto has a somewhat intimidating reputation, but I can't for the life of me think why. Of course, I say the same thing about the soufflé. Both dishes require a certain focused attention at one or two steps of the production, but that's it. If you make sure that your egg whites are absolutely free of yolk before you beat them, and if you incorporate the beaten whites into the yolk mixture with a gentle hand - and if you resist the temptation to open the oven door to see how the soufflé is coming along! - your soufflé will be spectacular and delicious. Those aren't big ifs, in my view.

With risotto, you have to find the right setting for your burner. You want medium-low heat - just as you do for macaroni and cheese. As the rice heats up, it absorbs broth, swelling greatly in size. If the heat is too high, the rice will scorch and the broth will boil off. Once you've got the temperature down, all you need is a good sauté pan,* so that you won't have to stand over the risotto, stirring constantly. That's because risotto won't stick to a good pan.

While I wouldn't go so far as to say that risottos are as handy for using up leftovers as soufflés are, the chances are that you have the fixings of an interesting risotto somewhere in the fridge. All you really need is a bit of onion and reasonably fresh arborio rice. (If you haven't made a risotto in years - as was the case chez moi - just throw the old rice away and start over.) Last night, I made a shrimp risotto that I'd been dreaming about. It came out very well. Kathleen almost always praises whatever I put on the table, but she waxed quite extravagantly about the dish.

*Julia Child once remarked - over lunch at the Cirpriani in Venice, as I recall reading - that all a good cook really needs is a good sauté pan and a couple of good knives. I'd phrase it differently. I'd say that even the best cook can't get by without them.


TrackBack URL for this entry:


The risotto sounds divine. I haven't made one in ages and you may have inspired me. One of my co-workers who grew up here in Boston, in the North End our Italian neighborhood, was bemoaning the fact with me that there are no fishmongers here in town anymore and that butcher shops are disappearing as well. Happily there is still a good Portuguese fish Market in Cambridge not that far from work. The only problem will be ordering their perfectly prepared deep fried calamari when I go to pick up some shrimps with the head on. The sacrifices one makes for a decent meal. *sigh*

Learning to make decent risotto is a pending ambition of mine, having messed up a batch or two in the not too distant past. I have been planning to follow this recipe on my next attempt -
Lidia's Risotto

I notice that she say you must stir constantly however, so I wonder if perhaps she needs to buy one of these All Clad sauté pans??

What do you think of Calphalon? I inherited what seems to be a decent Calphalon sauté pan but perhaps I know nothing about such things.

Of course, if you were so kind as to post one of your so very lovely and helpful recipes that explains the goal of each step for risotto as you have for numerous other dishes, I for one would ditch Ms. Lidia's method in a heartbeat!


OH wait! So you have! Ms. Lidia is kicked to the curb!

Ha! Perfect risotto, I can practically taste you now!

I am a kottke.org micropatron

Powered by
Movable Type 3.2