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What Is Risotto?
Risotto is an Italian rice dish, traditionally cooked with broth, butter, Parmesan cheese, white wine, and seasonal vegetables. Risotto is traditionally made with arborio rice, a rounded short-grain white rice with a high starch content that gives risotto its signature creamy consistency.
How to Cook Perfect Risotto
To cook risotto, aromatics like garlic and shallots are first sauteed in olive oil, then joined by arborio rice. The rice is toasted as it mingles with the alliums, then deglazed with white wine. Warm stock or broth is added in increments, allowing the rice to fully absorb each addition and release its starches. While stirring constantly over a medium heat, cook the risotto until the rice reaches al dente, with a pleasing chew and soft texture. Season to taste, and finish with butter for a glossy sheen.
Tips for Cooking Risotto
- Warm your stock. Cold stock straight from the fridge will interrupt the cooking process you’ve already begun with the aromatics and rice. Warm it to a simmer, then add the hot stock in increments to the rice to allow it to cook seamlessly.
- And add the stock slowly. You want to provide just enough liquid for the rice to absorb and release its starch, which only happens if the grains are close enough together and kept moving at a steady stir. If the rice is floating freely, you’ve added too much liquid.
- Stir, stir, stir. Speaking of moving, this is why risotto has a demanding reputation. It needs near-constant stirring to achieve that perfect creamy texture. Too much will turn it to glue, so don’t go crazy—but not enough, and it will stick to the bottom of the pan and may even burn. Aim for a happy middle ground, moving the grains around to encourage them to release their starch.
- Medium-low heat. “Low and slow” is something you might hear a lot with risotto, and that’s mostly true, but don’t go too low. While boiling it won’t get you the soft, plump creamy rice you’re after, cooking it over too low a heat will take ages. Aim for a slow simmer. Gentle bubbling and steam is your friend.
- Save the fat for last. Fat will break over heat, so if you’re adding a fat like butter or mascarpone cheese to take the creaminess to the next level, wait until you remove the risotto from the heat to swirl it in.
Wolfgang Puck’s Oatmeal Risotto RecipeEMAIL RECIPE
Chef Wolfgang Puck’s vegan oatmeal risotto with fresh spring peas and morel mushrooms can serve as an appetizer or a main course. The sweetness of peas, the nuttiness of oats, and the earthiness of morels combine to create a multi-dimensional, creamy dish. Top your risotto with pea tendrils to create a beautiful composition for your next dinner party.
For the vegetable stock:
- 1 leek, roughly chopped
- 3 carrots, roughly chopped
- 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 qts water
For the risotto:
- 1 cup steel cut oats
- 2 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- ½ cup dry white wine*
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup pea puree
*“When [I] make a risotto, people ask me, ‘Why do you put wine in it?’ Wine has acidity, and acidity balances the flavor,” says Chef Puck. “If you don’t like wine, [use] a little lemon juice or a little vinegar.”
For the pea puree:
- 2 cups english peas
- 2 cups morel mushrooms*
- 1 cup snap peas, cut at a 45° angle
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 tbsp shallots, minced
- 1 tsp garlic, chopped
- salt and pepper
*This oatmeal risotto recipe features morel mushrooms, but you can choose from a wealth of other mushroom options.
- Pea tendrils
- Mint leaves
- Lemon juice
- Olive oil
- Begin by making the vegetable stock. In a large stockpot on medium-high heat, add olive oil and sauté the leek, carrots, and celery stalks. If you have other leftover vegetables, you can add those too. (Stock should always have carrots, celery, and onions in it, but you can also add leeks, herbs, mushrooms, or any other leftover vegetables you have in your fridge.) Add the thyme and cover with water. Turn the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour. Use a chinois or fine mesh strainer to strain the stock into a smaller saucepot and save for the risotto. Keep hot.
- Move on to the risotto. Coat a medium saucepot with olive oil, and place on medium-high heat. When the olive oil is hot, add the shallots and garlic. Sauté, but do not allow to get brown.
- Add the oats, gently coating them with the contents of the saucepot. Deglaze with white wine. Reduce the wine. Once you cannot see any liquid, slowly add the vegetable stock to the risotto one ladle at a time, stirring constantly. When the oats absorb all the vegetable stock, add one more ladle. Repeat until the oats are cooked through, creamy with just a little firmness. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
- While the risotto cooks, make your pea puree. In a small saucepot, bring 4 cups of water (and a little salt) to a boil.. Remember to stir your risotto while you make the pea puree. Add in peas, boiling them until they float. Then remove and blanch them in ice water so that they keep their green color. Puree the peas in a blender, or pass them through a food mill. You can add the blanching liquid for easier blending. Blend until smooth.
- Now, prepare the vegetables. Cut the morels in quarters, and submerge them in a bowl of water. Any sand or dirt will sink to the bottom. Using your hands, retrieve the mushrooms from the water. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil to medium high. Add the morels, salt, pepper, thyme, shallots, and garlic. Stir.
- Cook the morels until all the water has evaporated to ensure a concentrated flavor. Add the snap peas, and cook briefly, in order to keep their crunchy texture and vibrant green color. Season with a little more salt. Taste.
- Now fold a small amount of the pea puree into the risotto. Do this at the last minute to make sure the green color is retained. (You won’t use all the pea puree in the risotto, so freeze for later use.)
- To plate, put a scoop of risotto in the center of the plate, shaking the plate gently to spread out the risotto. Place a spoonful of the morel mixture into the center of the risotto, making sure to remove the thyme. Place 2–3 pea tendrils and a few mint leaves on top of the morel mixture. Squeeze some lemon over the pea tendrils.
- Top risotto with a drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately.