Don’t be!  I hear one of two things when people talk to me about risotto.  Either, it’s so hard to make (wrong!) or “it’s just rice” (mostly wrong!)   This little primer is meant to debunk these two myths.  In the simplest terms, if you can make pasta, and you can stir, then you can make delicious risotto. 

There are three types of rice to use for risotto:  Arborio, Carnaroli, and Vialone Nano.  Arborio is the most common and easiest to find. All are good, and when prepared properly, become a creamy delicious dish. Plus, like pasta, risotto lends itself to varied ingredients  so each time you make it, it can be different. The ingredients below are divided into two categories, standard, and those used for this specific recipe.
Standard Basic Ingredients
2 cups arborio rice
32 oz. chicken broth 
1/2 vidalia onion or 2 medium shallots
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup dry white wine
With the above list, you can create a delicious Parmigiano risotto all on it’s own.  For this recipe, I added the following ingredients which were all prepped ahead of time and ready to be used.
Recipe Specific Ingredients
4 grilled, boneless chicken thighs diced
1 duck leg confit, warmed and shredded
8 oz. shittake mushrooms (sauteed)
8 oz. English peas (frozen)
Start by warming the broth in a sauce pan and have your ladle ready.  Add a little extra virgin olive oil to a large pan and sweat the shallots.  Once softened, add the rice to the pan.  At this point, you are “all in” and cannot wander away.  Stir the rice for 30 seconds or so, until a little white “dot” appears in the center of the grains. No more than a minute over medium low heat. Then add the white wine.  Here’s the key for good risotto: Do not add liquid to the rice, until the prior liquid in the pan has been absorbed!  Once the wine has evaporated, start ladling in the chicken broth 1 ladle at a time.  Here’s a picture after a few ladles of broth had been incorporated.

Rice & Broth. There are a few mushrooms visible in the pan
As the rice soaks up the broth, it will slowly cook.  STIR, STIR, STIR gently and as constantly as you can. This releases the starches unique to the rice varieties mentioned above and creates that creamy consistency that you want.  I wanted the rice to taste of the mushrooms and the duck, so after about 10 minutes I added those in.

Mushrooms, Duck Confit, and Chicken added

STIR, STIR, STIR!  At this point, maybe 20 minutes in, the rice should be softening and the broth should be more than half gone. If you run low on the broth, you can always add a little warm water to the broth. It won’t hurt the final product.  After about 25 minutes, the rice should be al dente.  TASTE IT! It shouldn’t be mushy. It should be firm, but not raw. Al dente like good pasta.  At this point, add the frozen peas and continue stirring.  The peas will take 2-3 minutes to warm through.  To wit…

All ingredients added and warming through

Once the peas are incorporated, add in about 6 tablespoon of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and stir in.  If the rice seems to “thick” add a small amount of broth so that the rice is creamy and “oozes” a bit of liquid on the plate.  Pass more Parmigiano at the table. 
The final plated product:

Risotto with Duck, Chicken, Mushroom, & English Peas

Got questions?  Leave a comment and I’ll be happy to reply.  Try a simple Parmigiano Risotto with the initial listing of ingredients above and then add ingredients as you become comfortable.  Some favorite recipes of mine:
Risotto with spinach and gorgonzola
Risotto with seared duck breast
Risotto with broccoli rabe and sausage
Risotto with seafood
Risotto with Parmigiano and Truffle oil
Risotto with wild mushrooms
Ci vediamo!
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