Risotto is a popular Italian dish associated with fancy restaurants. It is a cheerful, creamy Italian rice dish usually rich in flavors of the stock used to make it. Also, saffron, parmesan, butter, and hundreds of other ingredients add to its versatility.  

In this piece, you will learn every essential thing about risotto. You will discover its history, how to make risotto at home, and the perfect Italian wine pairing. 

Read this article line by line to learn how to prepare this satisfying dish that never fails to impress.

History of Risotto

The history of risotto is usually tied to the history of rice in Italy. According to historians, the Arabs introduced rice to Italy in the Middle Ages. The humidity of the Mediterranean proved to be ideal for growing shorter-grained rice.

At first, rice’s popularity grew among the wealthy Italians because of the product’s inflated prices. This changed later as the product became more accessible. It is also believed that rice met its delicious destiny in Milan.

Rice spilled from the bag with straws of rice beside - The Proud Italian

Milan was a colony of the Spaniards for around two centuries, and rice became a staple. The culinary landscape in the region was dominated by slow-cooking.

The slow-cooking philosophy was integrated into local rice cooking with a lot of focus on rich flavors and spices. Milan was famous for its spices, especially saffron which they used to make Risotto alla Milanese.

The popular delicacy was served by itself or as an accompaniment to Ossobucco and other Milan dishes. The food experts discovered that risotto was a great way of preparing the shorter-grained rice. This was mainly because the starchy part of the dry grain mixed well with the broth creating a thick, creamy sauce.

To date, rice, stock (mainly chicken), onions, wine, butter, saffron, and parmesan cheese remain the core ingredients for preparing risotto. The dish is also very popular at home and in restaurants.

Risotto is a simple, elegant dish whose history and simplicity make it a perfect choice for your home kitchen.   

The Key Steps for Making Risotto at Home

Food connoisseurs will tell you that risotto is more of a technique than a dish. You only need to grasp the basics of preparing the soffrito, toasting the rice, and adding the broth, and you will be good to go.

Risotto with mushrooms in a bowl with fork and napkin beside the bowl on the table - The Proud Italian

Here are the key steps to making risotto at home:

  • Go for the best rice you can find. The most common risotto rice is Arborio, and it is readily available in most markets. But, for unmatched texture and reliability, you can go for carnaroli rice, regarded as the best rice for risotto.
  • Ensure you have everything before you begin cooking. Rissoto is perfect if you serve it the moment it’s done. Therefore, ensure you measure, chop, and prepare the Arborio rice, wine, and add-ons. Also, ensure the serving bowls are ready.
  • Warm the broth. For a faster and creamier risotto at home, pour the broth in a saucepan and warm it on medium heat. Warming the broth before adding it to the warm rice coaxes more starch from the grain, preventing overcooking.  

When you use a cool broth, it takes longer to warm up in the risotto pan. This ends up shocking the grain into holding onto its starches as the rice cooks.

How to Check if Risotto is Ready

The best way you can determine whether your risotto is done is by using your eyes and mouth. The first step involves your eyes.

If your risotto is creamy but not thick and rolls back after running the spoon through the saucepan, you are close. It’s time to take a bite!

When you bite your risotto, the rice should be soft with a little bit on the softer part of al dente. Add some dabs of parmesan and butter before serving, then serve your risotto quickly in warm bowls.

Risotto in a pot with wooden spoon on a table whit a cloth napkin beside - The Proud Italian

The Perfect Wine Pairing for Risotto

The perfect wine pairing for risotto depends on the other ingredients you use, not the rice. Nevertheless, since risotto is usually served among the primi white wine suits better. The white wine goes well with seafood risotto, mushroom risotto.

If you are having a beetroot risotto, you can consider pairing it with red wine. To enjoy the texture and creaminess of your risotto, avoid wines that are too intrusive in terms of tannin or fruit character.

Is Rissoto Difficult to make?

No! Contrary to popular belief, risotto is not hard to make. When you look at the ingredients in a risotto recipe, you will agree that they are manageable.

Be that as it may, you must be ready to be hands-on as you prepare the risotto. The preparation process requires you to stand there and stir. Then, add liquid and stir, and monitor.

On the bright side, it takes at most 25 minutes to prepare so you wouldn’t stand for long.  

A Delicious Risotto Recipe to Make at Home

Yield

Serves 4 to 6.

Risotto with gorgonzola in a cooking pan - The Proud Italian

Ingredients

  • 8 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth.
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter and extra for finishing.
  • A huge shallot chopped finely.
  • Kosher salt.
  • 2 cups vialone nano, carnaroli, or Arborio rice.
  • ½ cup dry white wine.
  • 1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese.

Equipment

  • High-sided sauté pan (should have a diameter of at least 10 inches) or Dutch oven.
  • Medium saucepan.
  • Spatula.
  • Ladle or measuring scoop.

Instructions

  • Warm the broth in a medium saucepan over low heat. This helps the risotto come together quickly.
  • Melt the unsalted butter in a 12-inch straight-sided sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  • Add the shallot and a pinch of salt to the molten butter and cook till fragrant and softens around 4 minutes.
  • Add the rice and stir continually until all the grains are coated with the butter. You can add more fat if need be. Keep stirring until the edges turn translucent, but the center is still opaque around 2 minutes. At this point, you should smell the toasted rice aroma. Don’t brown the rice.
  • Deglaze the pan (although this is not necessary at this point). However, a splash of white wine adds another layer of flavor and helps lift caramelized bits.  
  • Add the wine and simmer as you stir for around 3 minutes until the wine is reduced completely.
  • Begin to slowly add the chicken broth in increments making sure you stir in between. You can add ½ a cup at a time. Wait until the broth is almost entirely absorbed before adding the next ladle.
    The gradual addition of liquid is critical to getting the rice to release its starch and create its own tasty sauce. Continue adding the broth until the rice is al dente and the broth is creamy.
  • Begin tasting after like 12 minutes to determine how far it is cooked.     
  • Your risotto is ready when the rice has a bit of chew, and the dish’s consistency is that of thick porridge. This might take up to 25 minutes. Run the spatula through the risotto; if it slowly fills the space like la onda, it is ready.
  • To finish up the process, add 1 or 2 more tablespoons of butter and a cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese to enrich your risotto and make it creamier. Serve immediately.  
  • You can refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Risotto with mushrooms served on the plate with a glass of wine, cloth napkin, spoon, pepper and parsley beside - The Proud Italian

Summary

If you have read this amazing piece to this point, you will not struggle to prepare a rice dish anymore. You understand the origins of risotto, and you also know the key steps of making risotto at home. 

Moreover, you now know which wine to pair with your risotto and how to check if it is ready. To get you started, we have also shared an easy risotto recipe you can try at home. In bocca al lupo! As you prepare your first risotto dish.