I love risotto, risotto rocks. It's creamy and comforting like a hug on a plate, but the best thing about risotto is its infinite versatility. Once you have the cooking method down pat you can add more or less what you like and you'll always end up with a meal that people will rave over.
Rick Stein tells a story about a small cafe in Italy where he asked the waiter what was in today's risotto. The waiter replied "Toady we have some good stock." And I believe him, even without any other ingredients a white risotto is great. The creamy texture comes from the starch that is released from the rice as you continually stir in ladle after ladle of stock, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Without this post turning into an homage to TV chefery I need to lay my cards on the table. My rosotto comes courtesy of Jamie Oliver. His first book, The Naked Chef, contains a number of risottos, all starting the same way but with tweaks here and there (roasted butternut squash anyone).
Tonight's risotto comes courtesy of a punnet of mushrooms at the back of the fridge and the inevitable question "what are we going to do with those mushrooms?"
A finely chopped onion, a stick a celery and a clove of garlic are sweated in oil until golden. Now add your rice, this is your first chance of knackering your risotto. Arborio rice is what you need, its short grains contain all of that lovely starch I mentioned. Sure, if you only have long grain, go ahead but be warned, you just wont get that oozy risotto that I crave. For the record I have of six varieties of rice on the go and they all do different things and are used in different dishes, I could probably pair down to 3 but rice is an inexpensive food stuff to obsess over so I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.
Meanwhile your rice should have taken on a nice sheen from the oil, pour over a glass of wine (you can't cook risotto without wine, all right you can but I'm not going to) and start your next 20-30 minute stir-a-thon. Once the wine has evaporated add your first ladle of hot stock and keep stirring. Add some of the mushrooms while your doing this to make sure that the whole dish is good and mushroomy and again, once the stock has evaporated, add another ladle. Repeat this until you have no stock left and the rice is cooked. Your final ladle of stock will be going into a cooked risotto so you can stop stirring now. It's often a good idea to have a willing sous-chef around just in case you need to stop stirring for some reason, an under stirred risotto is a sad thing.
To finish off add butter, parmesan cheese and parsley, put a lid on your pan and leave it to melt together for 5 minutes. Enjoy, I know I will.