A proper risotto is not for those looking for a light meal and space for dessert. It’s hearty and creamy… and can be very filling. So for those whose eyes are bigger than their bellies… eat with care, or suffer the consequences of rice expanding in your stomach and the risk of falling into a (food) comatose state.
Warnings aside… with a risotto the possibilities are only limited to your palette and creativity.
Courgette (hello again dear friend!), pumpkin, mushroom, asparagus…
Or for the carnivores: sausage, scallops, clams, salmon…
And for the fruitarians: strawberries, pears… wait, no, fruitarians aren’t allowed rice! Oh well, more for the rest of us I suppose…
Risottos (or more correctly called “risotti”), in general, are simple to make (and require few ingredients), but be prepared to spend a good 45 minutes to an hour prepping and cooking. It is not a dish for those looking for a quick meal as it requires a lot of stirring and a watchful eye. However, the end product is well worth the effort.
A chorus of hungry bellies grumble in agreement.
So let’s start with the ingredients…
Bitter and Smelly Risotto
(commonly known as “Radicchio and Gorgonzola”)
- 220g of Arborio or Carnaroli* rice
- 1 small onion
- 1 small head of radicchio
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- ½ a glass of white wine
- 500mL of broth
- Gorgonzola† (to taste)
- Parsley to garnish
45 minutes to 1 hour
- Thinly slice an onion and cook it in a pot with some olive oil. While the onion is cooking, wash and roughly slice the radicchio leaves. Once the onion is golden, throw the chopped leaves into the pot and give it a good mix. Cover the pot with a lid for a couple of minutes to encourage everything to cook faster, then remove to allow the liquid from the radicchio to boil away. (Don’t worry if it seems like a lot of radicchio, it shrivels into almost nothing when cooked… not exactly what you would call good value for volume, but in terms of taste a little goes a long way… especially if you, like me, are a supertaster! Strange how genetics works considering my sister is not, but that’s beside the point.)
- Once the radicchio looks more or less dry, add the white wine and wait until it evaporates before adding the rice. (At this point, it is very important to keep stirring unless you want to spend the rest of the evening fighting brunt rice with a scouring brush.) Give it a good mix and add a ladleful of broth once the rice seems to have soaked up any residual liquid.
- Keep adding broth and stirring until the rice is no longer crunchy. (This is the part that can get a bit tedious… but keep your eye on the prize and your tastebuds will be rewarded!) As it cooks, the rice will begin to look more and more sticky.
- When the rice is soft enough to eat, add the gorgonzola and mix until melted. Then plate and garnish with parsley. (The parsley is solely for aesthetics, but hey, you eat with your eyes, too!)
Simple, no? It’s easy enough when you get the hang of it…
- When cleaning the radicchio, if you want to save time and not spend 20 minutes cleaning it leaf by leaf, give the whole thing a quick rinse. Then chop it in half and remove the central stem. After, take each half and chop into slices. Finally, dump the whole lot into a colander and rinse roughly under running water. Same result, less effort.
* Arborio and Carnaroli are typical types of rice used in Italy to make risotto. Both are grown in Northern Italy and are used for risotto because of their high starch content. If you use Arborio, you end up with a creamy and starchier risotto due to its short grain. On the other hand, with Carnaroli the rice that retain their shape after cooking thereby giving your risotto a firmer texture due to its longer grain.
† Gorgonzola is mainly produced in the northern regions of Piemonte and Lombardia. In Italy it has a special protected status called DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta), which guarantees the product’s authenticity and quality. (Basically it’s the good stuff!) Gorgonzola is made from whole cow milk that is injected with a spores of mold (typically Penicillium glaucum), then aged for about three to four months. The creamier the cheese, the younger it is. In general, Gorgonzola is a strong cheese, by both smell and taste, but sweeter version of it do exist (called Gorgonzola Dolce).