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Risotto: Learn more about this traditional Italian dish

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Since its domestication, rice has been a preferred grain due to its flavor and easy cultivation. How it found its way to different countries has always been a source of debates.

One of the most solid theories is that rice was primarily domesticated in southern China. From there, rice started its path to all of Asia, then Europe, and reaching almost every country in the world after that.

An interesting characteristic of rice as a food is its versatility. In every country, rice has been adopted as a staple food. Therefore, in every country that utilizes it,  rice has a distinctive flavor and texture, which differs from country to country, and even from the region inside a country.

That’s the reason why you’ll surely not find two identical rice dishes in the entire world. Maybe, you can eat simple white or brown rice as a side dish, but every time you taste it, it will have a different flavor and texture.

Every country has authentic rice preparation methods because people use rice as a blank "canvas", adding their native ingredients and creating their own unique dishes. Nowadays, you can often identify countries just by their rice dishes. For example, Paella is a typical dish in Spain, as Sushi belongs to Japan and Risotto to Italy.

Risotto varieties

Let's learn more about a creamy rice preparation: Risotto. This famous Italian dish consists of rice cooked very slowly until it gets a creamy texture.

Arabs first introduced rice in Italy, through the island of Sicily. Then, the crops reached Naples and later spread through northern Italy in the Po river valley.

The name risotto refers to the slow cooking technique used in Italy for most of their food. The method consists of steadily cooking rice with water or broth. While cooking, more liquid is added until it is absorbed by the rice. This cooking technique is still used today and gives the risotto its characteristic creamy texture. 

Risotto has its origin in Milan, in northern Italy where, by chance, the first known risotto was created: Risotto Alla Milanese. History tells that a glass colorist apprentice wanted to make a joke to his master on his wedding day. He planned to add a lot of saffron to a rice preparation to ruin the party. Contrary to what he expected; the dish was a complete success.

The best risotto recipes

There are countless variations of this Italian dish. The base remains the same: sauté vegetables, water or broth, flavoring, and rice. The use of proper rice is the key to getting a perfect, creamy, and hearty risotto.

Arborio rice is the preferred rice used for making risotto.  It is a short grain rice that perfectly absorbs any liquid. Its texture is firm, creamy and chewy.

Arborio rice is prepared in a vast range of recipes, but the best Arborio rice recipes are the ones of risottos.

Basic Risotto

Servings: 4; Prep time: 5 minutes; Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of Arborio rice.
  • 8 cups of warm chicken broth.
  • ¼ cup of unsalted butter.
  • 1 chopped onion.
  • 1 cup of white wine.
  • 1 cup of grated Parmigiano cheese.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Preparation:

  1. In a saucepan, add half of the butter and cook at medium heat. Incorporate the onion and cook until it is soft.
  2. Add rice and stir it until it is completely covered with butter.
  3. Pour white wine and cook until it is almost dry.
  4. While stirring constantly, add broth 1 cup at a time. Be sure the broth is almost absorbed before adding more.
  5. Add salt and pepper, and cook until rice is creamy and tender.
  6. Finally, turn off the heat; incorporate the remaining butter and cheese. Mix very well.
  7. Serve hot.

Risotto alla Milanese

Servings: 4 Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of Arborio rice.
  • 1 chopped onion.
  • 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine.
  • 6 cups of hot chicken broth.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of saffron threads.
  • 1 cup of finely grated parmesan.
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste.

Preparation:

  1. In a saucepan, cook onion with 2 tablespoons of butter until onion is soft.
  2. Add rice and cook at medium heat.
  3. Pour in the saucepan 2 cups of chicken broth, white wine, and saffron threads.
  4. Bring this mixture to a boil.
  5. Then, simmer very slowly until the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Add more broth and continue adding it in small quantities at a time.
  7. Cook until rice is tender.
  8. Add cheese and butter; and season with salt and butter.
  9.  Serve.

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