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Any Risotto Experts out there ASAP?

I'm making Risotto tonight for the first time and need a standout recipe from a chowhound that knows his/her Risotto well. One that's not overly complex and preferably without proccuito, ham and such. How about a native Italian Recipe instead of an Americanized one. I'm looking for a great scallop or shrimp recipe with asparagas, peas, or mushrooms, with wine, vermouth, or champage, plus any helpful tips. I'll be using my new Mario Batali Enameled Cast Iron Risotto Pot. Giada's Champagne Shrimp Risotto sounds interesting although my last 4 Giada dishes were lackluster. I found a risotto recipe from an Italian Hotel that sounds interesting.

Also need an easy side dish or salad. Nothing heavy. Thanks for your help.

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  1. Risotto isn't a recipe to me, it's a method.

    You fry short-grain rice (carnaroli, vialone nano, etc.) in butter until it smells like nuts, deglaze with a shot of white wine, and then add hot stock (or fish fumet, or broth made from seafood shells) one ladleful at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon until you can scrape and see the bottom; add the next ladleful.

    You'll know when the risotto is done -- you can add whatever you want (cheese, for example, though I don't add cheese, preferring to salt my "add-ins"), having cooked it previously. If you are using bay scallops or shrimp, you don't need to cook them first, as the residual heat of the risotto will cook them sufficiently.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      Oh how I wish people would not fret over this dish and just read the top paragraph. A simple dish deserves simple instructions.

      1. re: Das Ubergeek

        I bow to you Master Das. One thing though, it should be stressed that the broth has to be hot. In my early days of making risotto, I stunted many a pot by adding cold stock. Oh to be young and naive.

        1. I learnt to make risotto from the Marcella Hazan book Classic Italian Cooking and never deviate from her method which is much as Das U. says. The important point (to me) is to stir vigorously at the beginning, then regularly throughout. This releases some of the starch from the short-grain rice which thickens the risotto and gives the dish it's rich texture.

          Be careful not to overcook the rice. Mushy risotto is awful. It takes a good 30-40 minutes to cook a cup of rice and it can't be rushed. You can add anything you want, but remember that it's a rice dish and that should be the focus.

          If you want a good recipe, try this one:


          It's from Lidia Bastianich who knows her risottos. For some reason there's some stuff at the bottom of the page which clearly doesn't belong in the recipe. Do NOT add the pears, lady fingers etc.

          8 Replies
          1. re: cheryl_h

            I do think that risotto is something that one learns to make - ie, it may not be perfect the first time. For me, the trickiest part is (still), keeping the flame at the right level - so that it doesn't cook too fast or too slow. Some recipes say that it takes 15 - 18 minutes once you start adding the liquid, but I think it usually takes longer than that. Good luck (my favorite, by the way - is with tomatoes (some added towards the beginning, some at the end), basil and smoked mozzarella).

            1. re: MMRuth

              I've never tried it with tomatoes. I tend to stick to very plain flavors, mostly mushroom or some fish or seafood. Your recipe sounds a bit like a risotto caprese. I have some plain buffalo milk mozzarella. Would that be too bland?

              1. re: cheryl_h

                The dish isn't overly tomato-y - think of pasta with chopped fresh tomotatoes, basil and mozzarella. I don't like buffalo milk mozzarella - too creamy for me - I imagine it would be good - but I loved the smokey flavor imparted by the smoked one. I think maybe I add some of the chopped tomatoes to the onions, and then the rest a minute or two before it's done. Then add the basil/mozzarella. And I do add some parmesan as well.

            2. re: cheryl_h

              Yeah, Lidia recipe sounds good. I think that the pears and lady fingers info copied over the remainder of the recipe. I just sort of browsed through it and didn't see anything about when to stir the liquid in and for how long, etc., etc.

              1. re: amoncada

                Oops, I didn't notice that. This is another link to the same recipe:


              2. re: cheryl_h

                I was just thinking - in terms about not letting the rice turn mushy - it does turn very quickly in my experience, and even after you take the pot of the heat, it will continue to cook a little bit. So, just start tasting after about 15 minutes or so - just a kernel or two so that you can get a sense of how the rice is progressing in its cooking. It's taken me a long time, along with the assistance of my husband's tasting, to determine just the right time to stop cooking.

                And - when you serve it (right away), I think it is traditional to serve it in a mound, so that it retains its warmth, and then pull bites out from the edge and work your way in.

                1. re: cheryl_h

                  I found this post in my search of risotto. After a lot of research, I decided to make my first risotto tonight using Lidia Bastianich's basic recipe that you linked to. I am very impressed with this. Thank you for sharing.

                  I found it to be a simple enough process, even if it is time-consuming. I had watched some YouTube videos that demonstrated how to make risotto. All went well.

                  The risotto was extremely rich. I think for our household, this will work better in the future as a main course than a side. We'll add something, shrimp and asparagus sounds good, to round it out for a full meal.

                  My wife asked if the time invested paid off in the final product. I think it did. Good stuff!

                  1. re: Batona

                    Batona - Welcome to Chowhound - what a wonderful way to start, with risotto. I agree, in our house, risotto and a salad is a lovely meal. My understanding is that in Italy, usually, risotto is served in a small portion as an appetizer, though it is also served with osso bucco.

                2. In addition to the above, keep it simple. Don't add too many things to it (two ingredients, plus parsley or other herb to finish is usually enough). Good combinations are shrimp with lemon zest, peas and mushrooms (cook the mushrooms first), or asparagus and peas. Also remember that as soon as it hits the plate or bowl, it starts to thicken. Make sure the plates or bowl that you are going to serve it in are warm, and when the risotto is done, don't let it sit; serve it right away.

                  If you want you can stir in a tablespoon or so of softened butter just before serving if you want the added creamy texture (restaurant style). If you are making the risotto with shrimp and scallops, I think it's preferable, texture wise, to make the risotto a little "looser". To do this I stir in a little of the fish fumet or whatever liquid you are using right at the end. If you are making a risotto with seafood in it, don't use a heavy liquid or it will overwhelm the delicate seafood. If you are using chicken broth, dilute it with water. Or if using shrimp, you could use water and steep the shrimp shells in it before you begin.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: farmersdaughter

                    Good points - and, theoretically, one shouldn't add parmesan if making a seafood risotto.

                    1. re: farmersdaughter

                      Great info. I'm really wanting a recipe that combines shrimp or scallops and saffron plus maybe some peas. I'm leaning towards a saffron risotto with peas & cream by Emeril called Classic Risotto Milanese. It doesn't call for shrimp or scallops. Would it be too much to add shrimp or scallops towards the end...or should I sear them separately and serve in addition to the risotto.

                      1. re: amoncada

                        I'm not familiar with this recipe, but I'd caution against adding the cream - to me, it is usually an ingredient present in very non-traditional/short cut risotto recipes in order to make up for not achieving the correct risotto consistency through the proper cooking method. Wondering if it is part of the Emeril philosophy that more fat is better.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          I would rather keep with the traditional way of cooking risotto...cream free. My date for tonight requested a dish with scallops or mushrooms. Scallops & Safron Risotto it is! Tyler Florence has an interesting recipe for Sweet Pea and Scallop Risotto. I'll add the saffron to this recipe...when, how? how much?

                          1. re: amoncada

                            In Marcella's recipe for Risotto with Saffron, she calls for 1/3 powdered saffron or 1/2 tsp. chopped saffron strands dissolved in 1 cup hot broth or water. You add 1/2 cup of this after the rice has cooked for 15 minutes, and then, once all that liquid has been dissolved, you add the remaining saffron liquid. (Before and after this, you use the rest of the broth that you have on hand.)

                          2. re: MMRuth

                            More fat is better? Sounds more like Paula Deans philosophy on cooking.

                          3. re: amoncada

                            Classic Risotto Milanese usually doesn't have peas or cream; it has saffron and veal marrow (because it is traditionally served with Osso Buco). Saffron is great in risotto; make sure you toast it briefly in a hot pan and then bloom it in a little warm stock before adding it to the risotto for a big punch. I think saffron, peas and shrimp or scallops would be a great combo. You can either pre cook the seafood, and add at the end or add it earlier and cook in the risotto. My preference is for the former method, to minimize the chance of overcooking the seafood. Enjoy!

                            1. re: farmersdaughter

                              Agreed. Risotto milanese is the recipe in Classic Italian Cooking and the only flavoring comes from saffron and stock with some cheese at the end. It should be very simple to allow the flavors to come through.

                        2. I agree w/those who wrote that risotto isn't so much a recipe as it is quality ingredients and techniques. I have found that the best rice for making risotto is Arborio. Its starchy outer layer absorbs sauces and the starch is also released into the cooking liquid. Do not rinse before using or you'll lose the starch. Also, make sure you have more liquid around (e.g., chicken broth) than you think you'll need. I learned this the hard way. I love risotto with chopped-up sun-dried tomatoes, peeled cooked shrimp, sauteed fennel, and peas (I don't mean to use all of these at once, although I don't think it would taste bad if you did). I generally do not like fennel but find it irresistible w/risotto for some reason! And of course use really good parmesan cheese.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: gloriousfood

                            thinking of risotto as a technique as opposed to a recipe is fine, but when you're making something for the first time, it's a lot easier to start with a recipe. my first risotto making experience was with a recipe and now i understand how and when to add other ingredients and improvise and wing it, sans recipe. it's that old adage about learning how to crawl before you can learn to walk.

                          2. risotto is in fact a method... merely slowly releasing starches from something, well, starchy. i do a butternut squash "risotto" that has no rice-- just 1/2 inch cubed raw butternut squash. then, cook just like you would with rice--mirepoix, stock, wine... add a little chopped sage, pecorino, s&p, and it's totally righteous--creamy, but slightly al dente. great side for roasted pork or chicken-- i did it with roast pork and braised greens for some friends. good eats.
                            the other piece of advice i'd give to making risotto-- don't stir too much... let the heat and the liquid do its work. you don't want to burn your stuff, but don't stir obsessively. you'll end up with a gluey mess. NO CREAM. CREAM=not f'in risotto, or cheating.
                            oh, and one other thing-- i've always heated wine with stock in about a 3-1 stock/wine ratio. warm, not hot. thoughts on that?

                            1. some things i've learned about risotto:

                              -vialone nano makes the creamiest risotto. a high quality brand is very important. look for something imported from italy and with very regular grains of rice. i use the burlap bag rice from whole foods.
                              -butter is better than olive oil. wine is unnecessary and can create a strange texture. i get more regular results with just stock.
                              -i usually cook mushrooms or shrimp in the 1/2 cooked rice. asparagus i cook at the beginning. with the exception of shrimp and tomatoes, i never cook risotto with more than one "theme" ingredient.
                              -a really tasty one i came up with: onion base, half way through add fresh tomatoes, chopped parsley. at the end add shrimp. you may add a squeeze of lemon.
                              -for all vegetable risottos, add a little butter, egg yolk, and parmesan cheese at the end.

                              1. I think this goes with out saying, but it doesn' hurt... use a good (homemade is always best) stock if possible.

                                I've never used Kitchen Basics STock but I hear it's decent. Watch the sodium and other preservatives from store bought "stocks" and broths.

                                I like to finish my risotto with parm or a spoon of mascarpone (in the pot).

                                1. I would recommend Marcella's Risotto with Porcini in Essentials. I followed this recipe precisely and it came out beautifully.

                                  I prefer mushroom based risottos over seafood ones because they are more flavorful. I like the earthier combination of mushrooms, parmigiano and butter. Then sear the shrimps and scallops separately and serve it as another dish.

                                  It does seem that risotto get its flavor from the stock so unless you are planning on making a good fish stock, I don't think putting a few pieces of shrimp or scallop at the end will bring too much to the dish.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: mielimato

                                    it really depends on how you make the risotto and the quality of your seafood.
                                    adding wine makes the risotto less subtle, and obviously you want to use a vegetable stock so as not to overwhelm the shellfish. "KISS" is the best method to go by with risotto.
                                    in terms of instant broths, most anything you find in the supermarket is terrible. you need to go to either a kosher grocery and buy their vegetable bouillon, or italian grocery and buy "knorr" or whatever, imported from Italy. make sure to buy the one loose in a container, not the cubes.
                                    per the seafood: buy shrimp with the shells on, uncooked, and you should be able to add plenty of flavor to your risotto. if you can, get the frozen wild gulf shrimp.

                                    1. re: fara

                                      There are some very good (powdered) fish stocks from Italy, in good food stores. They make a big difference in a seafood risotto.