Greetings All -
Been trying to make a loose textured, aka creamy risotto at home using Trader Joe's Arborio. No Luck yet....
Mods will probably kick me out into Home Cooking, but before that happens, any clue where we can find real Italian type risotto in Boston (west) or environs?
Better yet, any ideas on how to prepare, incorporating somewhat local ingredients?
You can get arborio rice in the bulk food section of the Harvest Coop in Central Sq. Or at Shaw's in the "International" section. My favorite recipe is Mark Bittman's Laid Back Risotto recipe (adapted from Mario Battali) and published by the NY Times. It's for asparagus risotto but you can substitute anything you want, it's more about the technique and the timing than the ingredients. I add alot more wine, and dont use butter etc.
I have not been impressed with the TrJ arborio. Formaggio Kitchen has a number of different risotto rices(and will talk to you about their different qualities) as do the many Italian markets.
With regards to 'local ingreds', you might consider buttercup or kabocha squash, dried or foraged mushrooms (fresh chanterelles and fresh shiitakes are my favs.) and bacon. While I prefer Parm, WF sells a smoked cheddar that can be good if used in moderation, and/or combined with a less assertive cheese like parm or creamy Italian fontina. Local Swiss chard is lovely right now; you could sautee some w/ garlic and serve the risotto atop it.
You can find quality arborio and carnaroli rice at the two Formaggios. I've made some pretty bad risotto, and some good, but if my home cooking experience is any example, technique may have as much to do with successful results as the right fat short-grain rice. I've decided that good, traditional homemade risotto is as much about a proper stock you've made with love, elbow grease, and timing.
Really nice Parmesan doesn't hurt, and Formaggio can help there, too.
About 20 years ago I took some leftover chicken and Knorr's risotto milanese to work for lunch. A dear friend who is one generation from Parma asked to taste the risotto and seemed very surprised when she said it tasted just like the risottos she grew up with. For ingredients from scratch I'd head to Salmeria Italiana in the North End.
Your problem with the lack of creaminess has more to do with the rice than anything else. Italian grown carnaroli/arborio/etc. is bred to have a starchy outer layer that creates that unctuous creaminess. Having tried some US grown arborio, I've found it lacks that quality.
How far west? Waverly market in Framingham and assumably Tutto in Wellesly stock the real thing.
By all means help out deweyweber54 with help finding risotto in the area covered by this board. He's correct that advice about cooking risotto belongs on our Home Cooking board, and he's correct as well that we'll remove posts about preparing risotto from this thread.
I make risotto pretty regularly - I favor Marcella Hazan's instructions. I've definitely learned that I get the best results from really good Italian rice - a couple of years ago I picked up several boxes of Gli Aironi brand vialone nano rice in a post-holiday sale and was very pleasantly surprised by what a difference it made. Now I try to stick to either carnaroli or vialone nano, and I usually buy at Salumeria Italiana in the North End. Gli Aironi is my favorite but it is pricy; I got a great deal last summer on some Cascina Belvedere brand and it was also excellent.
Regarding "somewhat local ingredients" I'm not entirely sure what you're asking. You can use all sorts of ingredients in a risotto, many of which could be local. Opinionatedchef's suggestions of winter squash or chard are good - I made a terrific pumpkin risotto a couple of weeks ago using half-inch cubes of fresh pumpkin, and chard is one of my standards year-round, either on the side as opinionatedchef describes above or in the risotto. In season, asparagus is another favorite ingredient in our house, as are peas.
For me, I like to use Carnaroli rice better than arborio. Remember risotto is a 'method' you can use a pleathorea of ingredients to make what you like.