When preparing risotto, use the
Mise en Place technique and assemble and measure out all the ingredients before starting your risotto.
Heating the broth or liquid: All the flavors that the cooking liquid starts out with become more concentrated and intense as it evaporates. Bearing that in mind,
when the recipe requires broth, you will use a fine, mild beef or chicken broth. It is always better to use homemade broth or
stock, but if you don't have the time (like most of us), don't worry! Swanson's Organic Chicken and Beef broths are great for making risotto.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring chicken broth to a slow, steady simmer (the liquid should stay hot but not simmer). Place this
pot on a burner, over low heat, next to the burner you will be using to make the risotto. Keep the broth simmering slowly.
Toasting the rice:
Cooking the rice in hot butter or oil before adding liquid helps the rice to absorb the liquids slowly without becoming
soggy. This is called "Toasting the Rice."
In a large heavy 4-quart pan over medium heat, melt the butter; add onion and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes or until soft (be careful not to brown the onions). Add the rice. Using a wooden spoon, stir approximately 2 to 3 minutes, making sure all the grains are well coated (toasting the rice in melted butter
also keeps it from getting mushy). Toasting the rice quickly heats up the grain's exterior (toast until the rice is hot to the touch and the color should
remain pearly white, not turn brown). Add the wine and stir until completely absorbed, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
Add liquid in increments:
The quantity of liquid suggested in the recipes is always approximate. In actual cooking, you should be prepared to use more,
or sometimes less, as the risotto itself requires. All the flavors that the cooking liquid starts out with become more concentrated and
intense as it evaporates. Bearing that in mind, when the recipe requires broth, you will use a fine, mild beef or chicken broth. It is always
better to use homemade broth or stock, but if you don't have the time (like most of us), don't worry! Swanson's Organic Chicken and Beef
broths are great for making risotto.
Add the hot chicken broth (1/2 cup at a time), stirring frequently. Add liquid slowly and stirring frequently are the keys to making perfect risotto. Run your wooden
spoon across the bottom of the pot to determine when each addition of broth is almost completely absorbed. Wait until each addition is almost completely
absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup, reserving about 1/4 cup to add at the end. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.
Risotto doesn't need constant attention during its 18 minute cooking time. You'll just need to check on the pan every few minutes, give the rice
a stir to keep it from sticking, and add more stock.
Adding Saffron Strands:
When the rice has cooked for 15 minutes, add 1/2 the dissolved saffron. Continue to stir and when
there is no more liquid in the pot, add the remaining saffron. Proceed with adding the hot chicken broth broth.
Finishing the risotto: After approximately 18 minutes, when the rice is tender but still firm, add the 1/4 cup reserved hot chicken broth.
NOTE: When cooking with broth, if you have used up the broth before the rice is fully
cooked, continue with simmering water.
The rice is done when it is tender, but firm to the bite. The total amount of cooking time may vary within 2 to 3 minutes.
To test the risotto for proper consistency, spoon a little into a bowl and shake it lightly from side to side. The risotto should spread out
very gently of its own accord. If the rice just stands still, it's too dry, so add a little more stock. If a puddle of liquid forms around the rice, you've added too much
stock. Spoon some liquid off, or just let the risotto sit for a few more seconds off the heat to absorb the excess stock.
Turn off the heat and immediately add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the parmesan cheese, stirring vigorously to combine with the rice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Cooking and stirring the Rice
Cooked Risotto Milanese
Serving the risotto: Transfer risotto to warmed serving plates and serve immediately with additional freshly-grated parmesan cheese on the side.
If the finished risotto is left to sit and not served immediately, it will continue absorbing fluid and become sticky instead of creamy. You can save this
by stirring in a few tablespoons of warm broth right before serving. If it is left to sit too long (15 minutes or more), the rice will lose its
firm texture and become undesirably mushy.
Makes 4 main course servings or 6 side dish servings.