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The Key to Cooking: Risotto!

SkyGheNeSkyGheNe Registered User regular
edited October 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
The free time I have had lately has lent itself to exploring the world of cooking. As a vegetarian, I've mostly been working with various sauces, pastas, and bread recipes, but I'm interested in exploring Risotto since it seems like it teaches a lot of fundamentals such as timing and taste.

Do any of you guys have any tips for cooking this meal? Have a favorite recipe? And as an aside - if you have a homemade tomato sauce recipe that is really good, I'd be interested in that as well.

SkyGheNe on
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Posts

  • JordanthehuttJordanthehutt Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I use, http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Gourmet-Mushroom-Risotto/Detail.aspx

    I've never managed to use 6 cups of stock and it turns out fine. I just keep adding in stock and boiling it off until the texture is correct.

  • SkyGheNeSkyGheNe Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I use, http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Gourmet-Mushroom-Risotto/Detail.aspx

    I've never managed to use 6 cups of stock and it turns out fine. I just keep adding in stock and boiling it off until the texture is correct.

    Thanks for the link - mushroom risotto is actually a good idea - lately we've been trying to incorporate more eggplant and mushrooms into our diet since it seems to be a vegetarian staple.

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  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited October 2009
    Ahaha. You should read the last couple of pages of the DnD cooking thread.

    CheerfulBear posted a nice sounding recipe for Mussel Pasta. And soffritto that shit!

    Personally, I'd suggest cooking your base in butter, not olive oil. You want a nice buttery risotto, not an oily risotto, don't you?

    Top tip is stir the rice regularly whilst cooking, adding a little of the stock at a time. Stirring massages out more of the starch from the rice, giving it that nice creamy texture.

  • firewaterwordfirewaterword Tighter than R. Kelly in his teens. Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    The key is to add the broth sloooooowly, something I'm sure most recipes point out. But yeah, that's the key. Makes for that awesome texture when done correctly. Not much beats a proper risotto. Extra points if you shell out for some white truffle oil to finish it with.

    They're gonna bury you, they're gonna finish. They're gonna stand 'em up six by six by six.
  • SixSix Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I use both butter and oil in my risotto.

    Porcini Mushroom Risotto

    Saffron Risotto

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  • SixSix Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    The key is to add the broth sloooooowly, something I'm sure most recipes point out. But yeah, that's the key. Makes for that awesome texture when done correctly. Not much beats a proper risotto. Extra points if you shell out for some white truffle oil to finish it with.

    White truffle oil can be good, but overpaying for it is somewhat folly, since it doesn't actually contain any truffle.

    XBL, PSN, & Steam: SixkillerNYC Twitter Flickr
  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Yeah, wait til CheerfulBear is around, he is a risotto pro.

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  • JebusUDJebusUD Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    The key is to add the broth sloooooowly, something I'm sure most recipes point out. But yeah, that's the key. Makes for that awesome texture when done correctly. Not much beats a proper risotto. Extra points if you shell out for some white truffle oil to finish it with.

    I think you guys missed that he is a vegetarian. Broth is nixed.

    Maybe you can make some kind of suitable vegtable broth though.

    You haven't given me a reason to steer clear of you!
  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Vegetable broth will probably work - for risotto you need some kind of broth. Are you strict vegetarian, or of the pescatarian variety? Seafood/shellfish broth works very well.

  • JebusUDJebusUD Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Worlds-Greatest-Vegetable-Broth/Detail.aspx

    This claims to be the worlds greatest veggie broth. I cannot attest to it however.

    You haven't given me a reason to steer clear of you!
  • SkyGheNeSkyGheNe Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Yeah I just went out and got ingredients. Went with an organic broth, some field mushrooms, a couple of leeks, and Aborio rice. Got some white wine to throw in (didn't know anything about wines, so I asked the guy about dry wines and he recommended a cheap chardonnay).

    My girlfriend and I are pretty strict vegetarians which is why I swapped out the chicken broth with vegetarian, but we'll see.

    Also - thanks for the link jebus - I'll pick that up next time I put the dish together (plan on doing it once a day this week).

    *edit*

    You don't cook the rice prior to using it in the recipe, right? My biggest fear is overcooking the rice. - people say to take it slow, but I don't want to make mush D:

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  • UsagiUsagi WOMP WOMPRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    nope, no precooking, just let the rice hang out in the pan for a little bit with the leeks and the oil, stir and then start adding the stock

    and to make your life easier, definitely heat up the stock before adding it in, I find that it speeds up the cooking process a lot

    have fun stirring!

    Jormungandr? Damn near killed 'er!
  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Did you get parmasean cheese? It's a risotto essential. Get parmasean cheese.

    Not that green can. The stuff that comes in rough-looking chunks. Parmagianno Reggiano.

  • SkyGheNeSkyGheNe Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    KalTorak wrote: »
    Did you get parmasean cheese? It's a risotto essential. Get parmasean cheese.

    Not that green can. The stuff that comes in rough-looking chunks. Parmagianno Reggiano.

    Haha - had the green can - gonna run out and get the real deal before i start cooking.

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  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited October 2009
    Nah, stick with the green can man. Real Parmesan is expensive as all hell and for my money, the tinned 'grated Italian hard cheese' actually gives a preferable flavour. Either that or experiment with some less pricey Italian hard cheeses. I mean, try Parmesan too, cooking is experimenting and figuring out what flavours work for you, but don't go running your ass all over town if you've got useable ingredients right there.

  • SixSix Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Jesus god, do not use green can parmesan.

    Go get a wedge of parmigianno reggiano. It is not that expensive

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  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited October 2009
    Six wrote: »
    Jesus god, do not use green can parmesan.

    Go get a wedge of parmigianno reggiano. It is not that expensive

    In a UK supermarket it sells for between £8-£15. That's just the supermarket stuff. At that price it's fair enough as a one off for a special occasion if you know what you're doing, but if there's a risk you're going to fuck it up or you're eating it every week (hello) then it's just way to expensive.

    I can only imagine the additional import costs for buying it in the US. Unless it's an EU thing and in the US they are allowed to manufacture it locally and sell it as parmesan? In the UK, if it's sold as Parmesan or parmigianno reggiano it has to have come from specific regions of Italy.

    If it isn't the real thing, then what's the difference between buying it as a wedge or buying it in a jar anyway?

  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Asda sells a 150g block of Parmigiano Reggiano for £1.38.

    EDIT: I'd link it but it doesn't seem to work unless you're logged in. Just go to asda.com and search for "parmesan".

  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Good parm is not cheap especially if you're making risotto regularly, though it's definitely superior to what you'd get in a can.

    If you already have the green can, by all means try that, it'll still be tasty though I've had trouble with it not melting in some applications. If you want to get fancier you may be able to find pre-grated/shredded parm in the refrigerated cheese section in sealed plastic containers (the brand name escapes me) before going into $15/20 per pound imported reggiano in wedges.

    You can also try pecorino romano.

    Risottos are great cause you can put pretty much anything in them. Try beets sometime, went over well with my vegetarian friends. Wrap beets in foil and bake in oven. Peel and dice them (the juice stains horribly, so be aware of that when prepping them). Mix into your risotto a few minutes before the risotto is done to your liking.

  • ChanusChanus Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    For vegetable broth, make your own.

    Make a salad, and all the bits you don't put in the salad? Put in a pot of water on the stove and simmer them for several hours (like all day). Strain the bits out and Voila : Homemade vegetable broth.

    As for risotto itself, don't be discouraged. It's a notoriously difficult dish to prepare correctly (because so much of it is just... feel). It takes a bit of practice.

  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Actually now that I think about it, I'm fairly sure Parmesan is one of the cheeses that requires the use of animal rennet, so you might want to avoid it if you're vegetarian.

  • ChanusChanus Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    japan wrote: »
    Actually now that I think about it, I'm fairly sure Parmesan is one of the cheeses that requires the use of animal rennet, so you might want to avoid it if you're vegetarian.

    I guess it depends. That sounds more like a vegan restriction than simply vegetarian.

    Why would you be willing to eat dairy but not animal rennet?

  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited October 2009
    japan wrote: »
    Asda sells a 150g block of Parmigiano Reggiano for £1.38.

    EDIT: I'd link it but it doesn't seem to work unless you're logged in. Just go to asda.com and search for "parmesan".

    Huh, yeah. I just checked sainsburys and they're only £2.50 for 200g. I swear to god I was in a supermarket the other day and saw a wedge for £10+. Maybe I was in M&S. Or maybe I was just being retarded and it was the price per kilo or something. In any case we used to use Parmesan but stopped due to the price difference (and honestly I prefer the taste the grated Italian hard give me, it's less bitter than the parmesan was).

  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Chanus wrote: »
    japan wrote: »
    Actually now that I think about it, I'm fairly sure Parmesan is one of the cheeses that requires the use of animal rennet, so you might want to avoid it if you're vegetarian.

    I guess it depends. That sounds more like a vegan restriction than simply vegetarian.

    Why would you be willing to eat dairy but not animal rennet?
    Dried and cleaned stomachs of young calves are sliced into small pieces and then put into saltwater or whey, together with some vinegar or wine to lower the pH of the solution. After some time (overnight or several days), the solution is filtered. The crude rennet that remains in the filtered solution can then be used to coagulate milk.

    Unlike milk, it's not something you can extract without killing the animal.

    EDIT: I know there is such a thing as vegetarian parmesan (I don't think it can technically be called parmesan, at least in the EU), but I don't know how easy it is to find.

  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Chanus wrote: »
    japan wrote: »
    Actually now that I think about it, I'm fairly sure Parmesan is one of the cheeses that requires the use of animal rennet, so you might want to avoid it if you're vegetarian.

    I guess it depends. That sounds more like a vegan restriction than simply vegetarian.

    Why would you be willing to eat dairy but not animal rennet?

    Because it's animal tissue (stomach lining). And Japan's right, you need rennet to make parm. Some vegetarians don't know about rennet, but when they find out most want to avoid it.

  • CheerfulBearCheerfulBear Registered User
    edited October 2009
    Six wrote: »
    I use both butter and oil in my risotto.

    Porcini Mushroom Risotto

    This is actually a pretty good introductory risotto, although that is a lot of goddamn butter. I would probably halve that.

    Really the key is to understand how the base risotto works:

    1. Butter/oil (med heat) -> Sautée the diced onion until translucent
    2. Add the rice (med, med-high heat) -> It's going to cook slightly (brown, fry, sweat, toast, whatever you want to call it), and you want to keep mixing it so that it doesn't stick to the pot, this should only take a minute or two until the rice starts to become translucent and absorb the fats/oils
    3. Add the white wine, wait until it absorbs most of it
    4. Add a cup of broth of broth at a time for about 20 minutes (rough estimation), then check the rice
    5. Don't time the cooking, but check the rice to see if its al dente or however you like it
    6. Mix in some more butter/cheese if you want it creamier
    7. Then depending on your taste you can leave it softer, more liquidy or you can let it absorb almost all of the broth before removing it, that way it's more firm
    8. Let it sit like 5 minutes before trying to serve or eat it, this helps the flavor mix and it'll taste better if it's not piping hot.

    The variations all generally involve what you put in after the onion or rice stages. Mushrooms, mussels, carrots, celery, squash, tomatoes, saffron, etc etc.

    Other things:
    Stir, make sure you stir. It doesn't have to be constantly stirring the entire 20 minutes, but you do not want the rice sticking to the pot and burning.
    You don't have to use broth. Often I'll completely forget about buying broth and I don't want to make any so I just heat up some water. You may need to salt it a little more though.
    Speaking of salt, don't forget to taste occasionally to see if it requires more salt and/or pepper. This is all personal taste, so I don't have any solid advice.
    The Italians like to eat risotto with a fork.

  • SixSix Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Six wrote: »
    I use both butter and oil in my risotto.

    Porcini Mushroom Risotto

    This is actually a pretty good introductory risotto, although that is a lot of goddamn butter. I would probably halve that.

    Such is the mark of my grandmother.

    I've used less and less over time, though I'm using about 2/3rds of that now.

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  • SixSix Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Also, on the subject of parmiganno reggiano - depending on where you get it, good 24-month old cheese will run you about $15 a pound, but of course you need far less than a pound for a batch of risotto.

    If you're in NYC, take a trip up to Arthur Ave in the Bronx. You can get 36-month pr for $8/lb. You can also buy it online for about $10/lb.

    XBL, PSN, & Steam: SixkillerNYC Twitter Flickr
  • SkyGheNeSkyGheNe Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Thanks for all the info and advice guys.

    We picked up some parmigiano reggiano which was pretty expensive ($9.00 for a small wedge) but definitely of high quality. Like someone else in the thread said, I've cooked with the Kraft can before and it is definitely harder to melt. Luckily I had the premium stuff for today.

    I went with a Mushroom Risotto that used leeks instead of onions and the organic vegetable broth. It's actually a fun dish to make because it keeps you engaged through out the entire process. The flavor was pretty strong - is that how it's supposed to be? I figure I'll know for sure when my girlfriend tries it, since it's a dish she enjoys and has had more often than myself.

    Also, all the stirring is a work out.

    What are some fun combos you guys put into the risotto? The mushroom wasn't bad. How are things like red and green peppers? Do you guys have a particular favorite?

    It sucks to hear about the Parmesan though. I'm not sure if my girlfriend would eat it anymore after hearing about that. Is there an alternative to parmesan that gets the job done and is just as sharp?

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  • SkyGheNeSkyGheNe Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Six wrote: »
    Also, on the subject of parmiganno reggiano - depending on where you get it, good 24-month old cheese will run you about $15 a pound, but of course you need far less than a pound for a batch of risotto.

    If you're in NYC, take a trip up to Arthur Ave in the Bronx. You can get 36-month pr for $8/lb. You can also buy it online for about $10/lb.

    Online is probably my best bet. Unless I get a job in NY, I only make it out every once in a while to the city.

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  • SkyGheNeSkyGheNe Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Djeet wrote: »
    You can also try pecorino romano.

    Risottos are great cause you can put pretty much anything in them. Try beets sometime, went over well with my vegetarian friends. Wrap beets in foil and bake in oven. Peel and dice them (the juice stains horribly, so be aware of that when prepping them). Mix into your risotto a few minutes before the risotto is done to your liking.

    The beets sound interesting - my parents just got a few out of their garden, so I'm going to see if they are interesting in sending some my way.

    Is the pecorino romano vegetarian? I think after my girlfriend hears about parmesan she might freak a little...or maybe her love for it will be too strong. Who knows. Tried looking up info online but nothing is coming up.

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  • CheerfulBearCheerfulBear Registered User
    edited October 2009
  • SixSix Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Yeah, risotto is a great for experimenting. Try different oils for the base. Use shallots instead of onion. Try different vegetables, etc. There's always something fun to try.

    Pecorino romano is usually sold right alongside parmiganno reggiano. It should be just as vegetarian.

    For buying online, I recommend Teitel Brothers. Just checked, and they have 36-month parmiggano reggiano for $9/lb, which is an excellent price. My father's bought entire 80lb wheels from them.

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  • UsagiUsagi WOMP WOMPRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    asparagus is also really good in risotto, I add it sometimes when I make mushroom risotto

    Jormungandr? Damn near killed 'er!
  • CheerfulBearCheerfulBear Registered User
    edited October 2009
    Also if you want to try something interesting, follow that porcini mushroom recipe, but instead of putting in a little dry white wine put in half a bottle of Chianti.

  • kaliyamakaliyama Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    chowhound threads are great places for ideas, too.

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  • Niceguy MyeyeNiceguy Myeye Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    There's one technique I use when making lots of things that are time consuming, yet have to be watched. If I find myself cooking something that has to be on heat for a while and stirred frequently, I get really bored.

    Unless I'm drunk. Then, it's the most fun thing on the planet.

    So, if you're reducing soup or broth or sauce, caramelizing onions, or making risotto, then get drunk and it'll be a lot more bearable.

    Also, don't follow my advice unless you're really comfortable in the kitchen and uhh, don't do it if you're cutting vegetables or cooking anything in oil. I don't want you getting hurt, but seriously drunk cooking is where it's at.

  • Blake TBlake T Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Usagi wrote: »
    nope, no precooking, just let the rice hang out in the pan for a little bit with the leeks and the oil, stir and then start adding the stock

    and to make your life easier, definitely heat up the stock before adding it in, I find that it speeds up the cooking process a lot

    have fun stirring!

    Yeah, I usually have to pots on the go when I make a cook it. One on super low heat for the stock and the other the actual pot for Risotto and I just grab a ladle and swap over as necessary.

  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    SkyGheNe wrote: »
    Is the pecorino romano vegetarian? I think after my girlfriend hears about parmesan she might freak a little...or maybe her love for it will be too strong. Who knows. Tried looking up info online but nothing is coming up.

    Pecorino romano most likely will have rennet. A lot of the sharp tasting cheeses have rennet. It can be difficult to find that kind of flavor in a strict vegetarian form. You have to look at the ingredient list and do your research if you really want to avoid it, and sometimes it's vague. Like if it says "enzymes", well sometimes that's rennet and sometimes it's a more vegetarian-friendly enzyme. A vegetarian friend clued me into this issue, and the sharpest tasting cheese he's shared with me was a Parrano. It doesn't have the punch of an aged parm but it's similar, and you will have to check the ingedients list and brand to makes sure they aren't using rennet.

    Googling the issue I find this site which if you go to the "type list" link you'll see something called parveggiano, which I guess tastes similar to parmesan (though I've not tried it). And that brand is alright.

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