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Radio Kitchen #937 - Risotto Revisited 4-26-11
Every time I turn on one of those hellfire and brimstone reality cooking shows, someone is making a mess of risotto for two hundred in something like eight minutes! This has always struck me as odd, because I have always viewed risotto as being one of those dishes that repays an investment in time. Jerry was happy to set us straight.
1. Time: Good risotto takes at least a half hour to make, possibly longer.
2. Rice varieties: Arborio is the best known, but Italians feel that Carnaroli and Vialone Nano actually are superior. Arborio, a plump short-grained rice is fairly easy to find in the States.
3. Preparation: The rice is often flash toasted in a dry skillet, or briefly sautéed with olive oil and then wine to get it started. Risotto is all about teasing the creamy starch out of the kernels and creating a sauce. The rice is cooked in pre-heated broth, which is added a little at a time. Stirring, usually verboten in rice preparation, is encouraged here.
4. Additions: Butter and grated parmesan cheese are very commonly used. Saffron is also called for in Northern Italian recipes. After that, the sky's the limit. Anything that can be cut down to bite-sized pieces is fair game. Various proteins as well as assorted vegetables can make an appearance. And of course it is perfectly happy with that greatest of dishes, ossobuco alla milanaise.
Here is one of Jerry's favorite risotto recipes.
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* small yellow onion, finely chopped
* cups Arborio rice
* cup dry white wine
* cups chicken broth (preferably homemade)
* cup grated Parmesan
* teaspoon kosher salt
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is absorbed. Add the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring occasionally and waiting until it's absorbed before adding more. It should take about 30 minutes for all the broth to be absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan, salt, and pepper. This is a blank canvas upon which thousands of variations can be painted. For example, during the last 10 minutes of cooking, add a cup of raw, peeled shrimp, ½ cup raw asparagus cut into ½ inch pieces and the zest and juice of one lemon to make a shrimp and asparagus risotto.