5 Delicious Risotto Recipes To Impress Guests
Risotto is one of those dishes that seems super fancy and complicated, but it really isn’t. Maybe it is because we always see it on the menu of fancy restaurants, or you’ve heard that it takes 30 minutes of constant stirring to make. Or maybe it’s just because no one has ever told you how to make it. Either way, this list of delicious risotto recipes can be your standby if you want an easy meal for dinner parties or get-togethers. I love serving risotto to guests because not only is it decadent and delicious, it’s really easy to batch quantities depending on your needs.
What Is Risotto?
Simply put, risotto is a rice dish originating from northern Italy. In simplest terms it is rice, cooked in broth or stock, and stirred to achieve a creamy consistency. Of course, there are dozens if not hundreds of variations, but the base of the recipe is extremely simple. The rice used to make the dish is also important. You will need a high starch, short-grain rice if you want to achieve the proper creamy nature of risotto. The most popular (re: easiest to obtain outside of Italy) is Arborio, which should be available at your local grocer. However if you can find it, Vialone Nano and Carnaroli are considered the best.
5 Delicious Risotto Recipes
One of the most popular risotto dishes you will find is your basic mushroom risotto. Of course, there is a huge number of mushrooms you can choose for this recipe, but the method is the same. This is one of my favorite types of risotto as well because, unlike some of the seafood ones, the earthiness really comes through here.
If I’m throwing a fancy party and really want to impress guests, I tend to break out the less common ingredients. Of course, one of the most popular “fancy dinner party” dishes is a roast quail, so this quail risotto is a nice fusion. The rice, cooked in homemade quail stock, is held together with extra cheese and a ring mold to beautifully present a split roasted quail for a true showstopper.
Langoustines, aka Norway Lobster or Scampi, play the star of this Italian coastal recipe for risotto agli scampi. Using a stock made out of fried and boiled langoustine carcasses, this seafood based rice dish is another delicious and beautiful meal. I like to garnish my version with a plethora of sprouts (in this case pea, bean, and alfalfa).
If you want to avoid fancy or expensive meats, you can always try this roasted butternut squash risotto. Perfect for those autumn months, this risotto isn’t complicated at all. In fact, it’s just your basic stock and parmesan risotto that is mixed with pieces of roasted butternut squash right before serving. It is rich and hearty, with a bit of sweetness from the squash.
Rabbit is one of my favorite meats, and it’s really not difficult to cook. In fact, I’ve even written a guide for how to butcher a whole rabbit. I’m a fan of using as much of an animal as I can, and after doing some fancy stuff with the legs and saddle you’re left with a carcass. Well just boil that carcass with some onion and root vegetables to make a tasty rabbit stock. Pick the meat off the bones (I know, time consuming) and saute in a little butter before adding atop a basic risotto. I also top this with some confit oyster mushrooms for an umami kick.
Delicious Risotto Recipes Tips And Tricks
Tip #1: Choosing The Right Alcohol
One thing you might notice when reading all my delicious risotto recipes is I don’t use a standard white wine. I know, maybe an Italian grandmother is screaming at me, oh well. That isn’t to say I don’t use alcohol, because c’mon let’s be serious…it’s me. No, I substitute white wine for aromatized wines like vermouth or Lillet Blanc. I find the higher alcohol content helps ‘crack’ the hard rice in the beginning of cooking, as well as adding tons of great flavor.
Tip #2: Shallots vs Onions
This tip probably isn’t very controversial, but I feel it must be said. Whenever you can, always use shallots over onion when making risotto. They are better than onion in almost every way and it is really no more effort.
Tip #3: The Right Ratio Of Stock To Rice
The best ratio of stock to rice is 6 to 1. That mean six cups of stock for each cup of rice. I see plenty of recipes calling for three to one or four to one, but trust me, more is better. Remember, the liquid can evaporate, but the flavor remains. This does mean that you have to be a little more active when cooking to prevent the rice from getting oversaturated. I add the liquid a quarter cup at a time (except for mushroom risotto when you need more to start the reduction) in a large pan to keep the temperature up and create lots of steam.
Tip #4: Salt Management
Oversalting in a recipe is just as much of a culinary crime as undersalting. When making risotto there are three salt components you need to be aware of. The stock, the cheese, and the crystal salt. If you are using stock with a good amount of salt in it, you probably shouldn’t add a ‘pinch of salt’ during the cooking process. I know this goes against a lot of what chef’s teach you, but a risotto that is too salty might as well be inedible. Remember, you can always add salt but it’s near impossible to take it away.
Do You Really Need To Stir Risotto Constantly For 30 Minutes?
The answer to this is…yes and no. It really depends on your definition of ‘constantly’. While it is important to stir the rice as it cooks, you aren’t whisking it violently like you would a meringue. A slow figure eight movement around the pan with a wooden spoon is more than enough. Accidently pour in too much liquid? Take a break and let some of the stock cook down, and then stir some more. I usually have a book in my left hand so I can read while I lazily go through the motions with the rice.