HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


I made a risotto the other night, let me tell you...

  • Den Oct 5, 2009 03:59 PM
  • 76
  • Share

I think risotto is kind of an unsung hero of the pasta world probably because it's a little harder to make and takes longer than other pastas. However, the effort to me is really worth it. I made a simple risotto with shallots, porcinis, veal stock, white wine and pecorino cheese and you could have eaten it until you were ill. It's a versatile ingredient and I was wondering what favorite adds others have for risotto?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
  1. Rice is not pasta.

    I like all types of risotto but this time of the year butternut squash puree makes for a nice addition.

    1. I'm intrigued- what kind of starch did you use in your risotto? Were the porcinis fresh or dried? Sounds delicious!

      8 Replies
      1. re: 4Snisl

        The porcinis were dried and I add the rehydrating water to the risotto.

        1. re: 4Snisl

          I'm intrigued- what kind of starch did you use in your risotto?

          Barley makes a nice twist for Risotto. I also see many recipes using California Pearl Rice, which I have no idea what that is......I always use vegetables of the season with chicken stock.....asparagus and mushrooms being the most popular.....when making mushroom risotto, I will use the liquid from hydrating the porcini mushrooms too.

          1. re: fourunder

            Ooh, I really like the barley twist. Unlike pasta it would/should absorb all the liquid, wouldn't it?

            1. re: c oliver

              The first time I saw Barley Risotto was on an episode of Michael Chiarello's cooking show...he made it more of a creamy/loose texture.....but yes, it absorbs a lot of liquid to make.


              1. re: fourunder

                I'd never heard of barley risotto until I had it at a restaurant in Prague a few weeks ago. It was done fairly dry but still creamy, quite savory, served as a bed for roast quail. Delicious!

                1. re: BobB

                  Poor baby. I know it took a real effort on your part to gag down those quail, huh? My daddy used to hunt quail and dove and I remember those meals fondling. On a bed of (any kind of) risotto would be gilding the lily. Good for you.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    And that was just the appetizer - it was followed by the most tender venison I've ever eaten!

                    P.S. I suspect you meant to write "fondly," not "fondling." I hope that's just a typo and not repressed memory syndrome. ;-)

                    1. re: BobB

                      i know that i'm a little late to the party on this one, but... haha! bob i was thinking the same thing but would not have phrased it quite so eloquently! :)

        2. After you tell us about the pasta part, did you make your own veal stock? If you bought it, where pray tell? Isn't there a law that one HAS to eat risotto until ill???

          14 Replies
          1. re: c oliver

            It's our own veal stock. I get it from the restaurant where I work.

            1. re: Den

              Lucky you. But I'm still wondering what pasta you use and how you make it work. I just can't get my brain around that.

              1. re: c oliver

                I use risotto of course and as I was corrected by the New Yorker, it's not a pasta although I think of it as one.

                1. re: Den

                  I have lots of pastas and lots of rices but arborio stands alone :) I've never thought of it as a pasta though.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    CO... I know you know that Arborio is a short grained Rice from the Piedmont region of Italy, actually named after the municipality of the same name..... Not A Pasta.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      Instead of arborio rice, try carnaroli rice. My Roman cousin swears it's "the best" and my god he is right. Perfect risotto every time.

                      1. re: heypielady

                        I'll check that out - once I use up all the arborio (rice). :)

                    2. re: Den

                      why do you think of it as a pasta?

                      1. re: scubadoo97

                        Let's see - a starchy, often cheesy (in the good sense) side dish - yeah, I can see that.

                        1. re: BobB

                          you actually can make risotto with pasta. my friend makes a saffron one using orzo that he is famous for. i keep making him promise to share the recipe.

                      2. re: Den

                        Didn't that sweet movie Big Night have a scene where the Italian purist chef refused to serve a customer a risotto and a pasta dish (because in his view that's like ordering two of the first course and ignoring the second course?

                        1. re: Bada Bing

                          Yes, and IIRC, there was the short scene where the female customer (I think it was Caroline Aaron) complained about the shrimp risotto not containing any shrimp...

                  2. re: c oliver

                    If you don't have restaurant veal stock, you can buy a pretty decent shelf-stable veal stock concentrate at the grocery store by a company called More Than Gournet (Demi-Glace Gold). I use it quite a bit.

                    1. re: stuck in Hartford County

                      I've used the chicken and read on CH about the others. I need to check that out. Thanks for the reminder.

                  3. One of my favorites is a risotto with chopped fresh tomatoes, cubed smoked mozzarella and basil. I used chicken stock when I make it.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: MMRuth

                      Wow, a summertime twist, eh? Back in the spring I made one with black trumpet mushrooms from our farmers market. Sigh.

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        Try adding the leftover juices from canned San Marzano tomatoes to the stock (along with some wine). I made one last week and it turned out great.

                      2. Someday I'm going to try that risotto with gorgonzola dolce and toasted pistachios, the recipe that's been floating around here for five years or more. Like the day I wake up and find that I have miraculously lost 10 lbs overnight.....


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: coll

                          I love that post and the comments and posts on that. An enteraining read!

                        2. I've done that exact same risotto a couple of times and it's truly wonderful! Risotto is one of my favourite 'lazy' dishes as I find it's very versatile and so easy to make. I sometimes use arborio or carnaroli rice and other times, I make it using barley (delicious and healthy too). I also use butternut squash puree and other times, pureéd roasted beets, leek and thyme.
                          Toasted pine nuts work well as do sundried tomatoes.

                          1. i don't like rice so much but do make risotto sometimes, however am partial to 'nice' mushrooms and shellfish. my favourites are: 1) shiitake and magret de canard. 2)Arroz de Berbigão [cockles/clams or any shellfish really]

                            1. ive done rabbit and duck risottos, veg ones, mushroom ones, almost anything can work.

                              i also like using leftover risotto as a filling for an omelette

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: thew

                                A couple weeks ago I made a honeydew melon and prosciutto risotto, it was yummy!

                                1. re: thew

                                  You taught me about oven polenta. Is there a version for risotto???

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    Delia Smith makes an oven version (see link) which I have made for years. Risotto purists will cry foul but the fact is, if the choice is this or no risotto, it is everyone's own choice to make. ;) (Once you get the technique, such as it is, you can convert most any risotto recipe, although out of respect, I would never try the gorgonzola dolce pistachio one this way.) http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/ty...

                                2. One of the most simple is a celery risotto - I add onion, wine, chicken stock, fresh black pepper and about 2 cups chopped celery added in additions throughout the cooking time and of course a tbsp butter and parm to finish it off. Sometimes I also substitute some fennel in place of half the celery.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: howchow

                                    Celery sounds really good. How small do you chop it?

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      I discard the the outer most green ribs - then slice about 1/4 inch including the leafy tops.

                                  2. bacon and peas at the very end w/Parmigiano Reg

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                      Tonight I did bacon and onion as the base, then late in the process added a few scant chopped canned tomatoes and a bit of their juice, some anchovy paste, a tablespoon or so of chevre, and grated percorino. Finished on the plate with a drizzle of aged balsamic and grey sea salt. Yum.

                                    2. All of these risottos sound delish, but if you are lucky enough to have any left, make Barbara Figaroa's (Seattle Chef) risotto cake topped with a wild mushroom ragu. Pack the left over risotto into a buttered English muffin ring (or a 3" ring mold of any kind). Place grated pecorino cheese on a plate and dredge both sides of the risotto in the cheese. Melt more butter in a non-stick skillet and cook the cakes until toasted on each side. Slide onto a plate and remove ring. Top with warm mushroom ragu. Eat 'til you're ill. I guarantee the weight gain is worth the absolute ecstasy.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: amazinc

                                        OMG, that sounds incredible. Thanks ALOT for sharing.

                                        1. re: amazinc

                                          LOVE risotto cakes. Dom't make risotto too often, but when I do, I make sure I will have enough left overs to make the risotto cakes. Sometimes I even enjoy them more than the original dish

                                          1. re: macca

                                            Arborio rice makes the best rice balls too.

                                        2. I will sometimes use a mild white fish, scallops or shrimp. When using shrimp, you can use the tails for the stock.

                                          1. Two I like in addition to some mentioned already:

                                            A basic risotto milanese (finely chopped onion, saffron) made with chicken or vegetable stock, with sauteed wild mushrooms and baby arugula leaves folded in at the end.

                                            A simple risotto made with onions, garlic, chicken stock, with Meyer lemon zest and juice added near the end of cooking, finished with a bit of butter and little or no cheese. This is a nice side with roast chicken.

                                            1. Seeing an ad for a Chow vegetable risotto dish is actually what got me to first visit this site. I tried it last spring and was hooked. I know I'm going to be experimenting with risottos a lot this fall and winter. Somebody just passed a recipe on to me for a risotto that includes bacon and carmelized onions, which sounded heavenly. I think that will be my next experiment!

                                              1. I love risotto, don't get me wrong. But lately when in the kitchen I opt for barley.
                                                A whole grain (well, almost) versus white rice.

                                                And so much easier to cook -- no constant stirring, and yet delicious. Absorbs all the flavors of risotto yet you can feel smug (and happily satiated) by subbing barley.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: NYchowcook

                                                  i agree - barley risotto is a fall fave - i've copied a dish i had at a local cambridge eatery that's a barley risotto with pumpkin, pancetta and peas - feels like home...

                                                  1. re: jmullen1251

                                                    That sounds so, so good, but I've never made risotto with barley. Any hints?

                                                    1. re: coll

                                                      hey there - i actually make it much in the same way that i would a traditional risotto. i roast the pumpkin, cubed, like i would for butternut squash and add to sauteed onions, and garlic that are cooked with the pancetta. i add the barley and let it toast a bit in the saute, then start adding my liquids - some white wine and then, gradually, heated chicken stock. parm, butter and frozen peas go in at the end - hope you like it as much as i do!

                                                      1. re: jmullen1251

                                                        sometimes i'll even make a risotto-style dish with israeli couscous - i really like the texture. i usually make that version with butternut squash (a standard for fall), pancetta (i'm nothing if not consistent) and feta instead of parm.

                                                        1. re: jmullen1251

                                                          Thanks for the quick reply! I know I will love it before I even make it. Can hardly wait......

                                                  2. I know this sounds like heresy and I love a traditional hand-stirred risotto, but we often make ours in a pressure cooker. I agree carnoli seems to work the best. I can have it on the table in 10 minutes and it's delicious. In the summer I use onion in the pot at the start and add in sauteed zucchini and fresh basil and oregano with the cheese at the end. In the winter we use frozen organic cobed butternut squash that I toss in with the rice. Super simple and comforting

                                                    1. This thread is making me wonder whether I have missed a new terminological trend.

                                                      According to standard Italian terminology, pasta and risotto are both primi piatti, but pasta is not a synonym of primo piatto, merely the most common type of primo. That is to say, the terms pasta and risotto cannot be used interchangeably, though the dishes are indeed interchangeable (you would have one or the other in a meal as your primo, not both, except perhaps as tiny portions in a tasting menu).

                                                      Likewise, barley cannot be the main ingredient in a risotto, because the main ingredient in a risotto by definition has to be rice. Barley is orzo, and orzo cooked in a way similar to rice cooked as risotto is called orzotto.

                                                      Thus, the question what kind of starch did you use in your risotto has to be answered with "rice," but that would sound too smart-alecky, so really it would have to be "arborio" or "carnaroli" or some other rice variety.

                                                      The Latini pasta company makes a pasta shape called pennette, which are too small to handle like normal pasta, though not small enough to be treated like a pastina, so they publish a recipe titled Pennette Cooked in the Manner of Risotto. Their pasta is particularly starchy and absorbent, so the recipe makes sense. But the point is what they call it: it's not rice, so it's not called risotto, merely in the manner of.

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: mbfant

                                                        I think in the beginning, the OP mis-wrote and used pasta instead of rice. Then others have used a "shorthand" of barley risotto when they actually mean "in the manner of risotto." But I thought barley was a grain and the orzo I use in dishes (not risotto-esque) is definitely a pasta and not a grain. I AM confused now.

                                                        1. re: mbfant

                                                          I have made a "pasta risotto" from a recipe in the New York Times using a small penne, and it was good, but just not quite as comforting as arborio risotto. I tried substituting a Pecorino Romano for my usual parmesan once, and it didn't have the same bite. I also made a mushroom risotto and didn't take into account the moisture leaking from the mushrooms, so it was mooshy. I think I'd add the mushrooms at the end from now on. There's a Risotto with Gorgonzola in Lidia Bastianich's book, Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy, that I am simply going to have to try next!

                                                          Oh, and for the wine? I just use Trader Joe's Three Buck Chuck - the Chardonnay.

                                                          1. re: miki

                                                            I'm trying that NYTimes recipe tonite, any advice?

                                                            1. re: jinglejangle

                                                              Sorry to have missed your post; I was actually picking up my son - who'd first tried the recipe - who came in on the bus from Chicago for the holidays. His advice is to remember to add the heated broth slowly.

                                                              How did it turn out?

                                                              1. re: miki

                                                                thanks! I got sidetracked and didn't make it, hope to get to it this week and will report back.

                                                        2. Hi, folks. Please keep the focus here on preparing risotto. Discussion of what risotto is (and isn't) is a topic for the General Chowhounding board. http://chowhound.chow.com/boards/27
                                                          Thanks very much.

                                                          1. I make a quattro formagio number with fontina, mozzarella, gorgonzola and romano that will knock your socks off, if I may be so bold.

                                                            1. If there was a post for "Foods You **ck Up Every Time You Cook Them" risotto would be at the top of my (short) list. Maybe even the only thing. I just cannot make risotto come out the way I want it to. Never. Ever.

                                                              9 Replies
                                                              1. re: stuck in Hartford County

                                                                It's good that you only have a short list.;-)
                                                                Keep at it, you'll get the technique down and then your short list will be non-existent!
                                                                The thing I've found with risotto that, even if you don't get it right, it usually still tastes good.

                                                                1. re: stuck in Hartford County

                                                                  A CH, who's a VERY good cook, recently shared this oven-baked risotto recipe with me. I haven't tried it yet but if SHE likes it then I know it's going to be good. After making polenta in the oven, I've never wanted to do it any other way.


                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                    Hmmm. I'm in the "I Hate Cooking Risotto Club!" But always open to challenge (oven-baked risotto!). I'll take the "foolproof" Martha/risotto challenge. Will report on results, soon. The list of failed recipes is long, indeed!

                                                                    1. re: stuck in Hartford County

                                                                      I won't blow her cover but this CH is really in the stratosphere IMO so I don't think she'd lead me/us astray Report back please.

                                                                      1. re: stuck in Hartford County

                                                                        And then we have Lady Delia's Oven-Baked Wild Mushroom Risotto:


                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                          Oh, wow, wild mushroom risotto is one of my faves. Somehow I think the temp of 2,300 F is wrong :)

                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                            CO... read that Gas Mark 2, (or) 300F, (or)150C

                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                              Ah, got it. Thanks, Gio. I'm considering making this Tuesday at MIL's. Her range top burners are junk but the oven is accurate (I checked it). My fresh mushroom choices may be limited (will check at WF once we get to Reno). Would it be acceptable to substitue button mushrooms? Not as good I know but....

                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                After all the cooking I've done I say, sure. Use whatever mushrooms you can get. And, yes, they won't have the dwpth of flavor wild one do but if you sauté them in a bit of butter with S & P before continuing with the recipe you'll add a bit more flavor to them. Good Luck!~

                                                                  2. i made one last night w/ peas shrimp and kassler ripchen, using homemade shrimp stock and manchego cheese

                                                                    1. I made the best risotto I've ever made the other day. I started with white onions. I added the rice and toasted it for longer than I've done before. I added the stock, and it was the first time I've ever continuously stirred it like you're SUPPOSED to. I always kinda faked it before. Once it was cooked, I folded in a healthy dose of Boursin cheese and a couple handfuls of good quality frozen peas. Finished with a bit of parm, then I sprinkled some freshly cut pea shoots over the bowls.

                                                                      It was SUBLIME!

                                                                      1. We recently made a very good risotto with sausages.
                                                                        Italian cuisine is often characterized as driven by seasons and being focused on very few ingredients in each dish. For us the dish which symbolizes this philosophy most is risotto