Rice, rice, rice ! Finally I can go back to eating rice. So I made one of my favorite dishes: risotto. Risotto is a very hearty Italian dish, eaten all year round in all part of Italy. I love how firm the rice is and how it contrast with the overall creaminess of the dish, however this particular version, although very good and fulfilling may not be the best with a 35C temperature.
Traditionally risotto is not often a one meal dish. It is served as a “primo”, or the first dish which can be pasta or rice. Then comes the “secondo” which are the main protein and some potatoes or more often vegetables. Add “antipasti” and some “dolce” and you start to understand why complete meals are such a lengthy affair in Italy ! I once went to a friend’s family reunion in Naples, on Saturday we had lunch with all her relatives – and let me tell you there was a lot of them. We arrived around 12, we started eating at maybe one in the afternoon and we finally finished lunch at 8 in the evening ! My friend told me it was quite normal, especially in the south of Italy where the culture of family is still rather important.
Anyway back to risotto… It is a dish that requires to get use to making it, the first few times it is not quite right, but believe me it is worth the trial and error phase. There are two “secrets” to making risotto : time and rice.
- Time : risotto does not wait. There is a saying in Italy that guests wait for risotto, risotto does not wait for the guests. It has to be made and eaten right then or it will lose flavours and texture.
- Rice : it is the ingredient that makes a good risotto. You want to use specific risotto rice or arborio rice. It is a round kind of rice slightly opaque and not quite white in colour. The best one I have found so far is actually parboiled arborio rice that cooks in 18 minutes.
You will need
- 320mL arborio risotto rice
- 1/2 onion finely cut lengthwise
- 1 clove garlic chopped
- 3-4 spicy sausages – I used spicy Arab sausages called merguez. If you find them do give them a try !
- Chicken stock or chicken stock cube and water – the quantity here will depend on your stove top. You can also use vegetable stock.
- Saffron – I use the powdered kind since it is so expensive, for the two of us, half a packet is enough. However if you can afford real saffron, it is a must have!
- A pinch of salt
- Chili to taste
- A little olive oil
- A pinch of Provence Herbs
What should you do
- Start by cutting your sausages into small pieces. Put the olive oil, salt, chili, garlic, provence herbs, onions and sausages. Cook until the sausages are about half done.
- Put the rice in your pan. You want to stir it on high it until it becomes translucent and almost start to toast. This step will ensure you get a creamy risotto even without adding any cream or cheesy stuff.
- When your rice has acquired this glossy aspect. Pour part of your chicken stock. You need to slightly cover the rice. Don’t pour too much, or you risk getting a watery risotto instead of a creamy one.
- When the rice is almost done – for me after 12 or 13 minutes – add the saffron. Stir well, wait a few minutes, taste one last time. Add a bit of salt if you think it needs it and serve.
- Enjoy ! ^^
The tricky part in risotto is getting in the right amount of water without drowning the rice or burn it. I usually add enough to cover the rice at first and then little by little until it is almost done.You should taste the rice to test if it is cooked enough. You want it to remain firm but chewy, with no hard bits in the center. Consider that cooking time will vary depending on your stovetop and the quantity you are making. For two cup of rice I usually start tasting the rice after about 12 minutes and it is usually done in 15.