Italy is famous for producing some of the best-loved cuisine in the world, but amongst the popular pizza and pasta dishes there is another firm favourite: the humble risotto.
While its primary component, rice, is typically regarded as an Asian food product, rice was actually first cultivated in Italy back in 1425, according to Rice and Wine. The north of Italy in particular continues to be the biggest producer of rice in the EU, and risotto is a dish that is enjoyed in various styles throughout the majority of Italian regions. But what makes the perfect risotto?
The Right Rice
Picking the right type of rice is essential to the success of your risotto. Always opt for plump and starchy rices such as Carnaroli, Arborio or Vialone Nano rather than fine long-grain rices that are Oriental in their nature. Avoid rinsing your rice before cooking, as this can lead to it losing its shape later on.
The Cooking Process
Risotto is not difficult to make, but the correct techniques need to be observed and followed to achieve perfection. A good risotto should start with a good base (usually extra-virgin olive oil), and the rice should always be warmed (or toasted) until the steam feels hot to touch. At this stage a good-quality stock or wine should be added along with the additional ingredients. From then, the rice can be left on a low-medium heat until the desired consistency is achieved. The final stage is what the Italian’s call ‘mantecatura’, which simply means adding butter and Parmesan to create the delicious creaminess we associate with the dish.
The Additional Ingredients
The beauty of risotto is that it is so versatile and can be widely adapted depending on the tastes and creativity of the cook. Some traditional staple ingredients to theme a risotto include mushroom, asparagus, seafood, pumpkin, pea and pancetta, but really there are few things that wouldn’t work in this deliciously diverse dish.
So there you have it. Simple yet satisfying, risotto is now so popular that it is served in Italian restaurants in Dublin such as www.toscanarestaurant.ie as well as risotto bars in Japan.
It is so well loved that there is even an annual three-day festival in Biella to honour it. What better way to celebrate this wonderful dish?