extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 cup of Vialone Nano, Arborio or Carnaroli rice
4 cups of chicken stock or substitute vegetable stock if you prefer
2 pinches of saffron, approximately 1/2 teaspoon
1 cup of dry white wine or vermouth
2/3 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus additional to serve with the risotto
1 cup of frozen baby peas
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a saucepan, then lower the heat to a simmer. Add the saffron to the hot stock and stir. The stock should turn a bright golden yellow. Keep the stock at a simmer. Blanch the peas in a saucepan of boiling minute for 1 minute, drain and put into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and drain again.
In a separate fry or sauté pan heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 3 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. When the butter is melted add the onions, garlic and a pinch of sea salt and cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Then add the rice and stir until the rice until it is coated with the butter and oil and slightly translucent, about 2 to 4 minutes. Add the wine or vermouth to the pan with the rice and keep stirring gently until the rice has absorbed the wine. Add the hot saffron chicken stock to the pan until it covers the rice. Continue to cook the rice, stirring continuously, until the rice has absorbed the stock. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer.
Repeat this process 2 more times. When both of the 2 additions of stock have been absorbed, taste several grains of rice, (they don’t all cook at the same rate). This should take around 15 to 20 minutes. The risotto is done when it is creamy and soft but with a slight bite. If the rice is still a bit too hard, add a little more stock and cook, stirring continuously, for another few minutes. If you run out of stock you can add some boiling water. When the rice is done, remove from the heat, taste and check the seasoning, add salt and pepper to taste, add the 2 tablespoons of butter, the peas and the Parmigiano-Reggiano Stir well and taste again. Add additional cheese, salt, or pepper, to taste. Place a lid on the pot and allow the risotto to sit for 2 minutes. This step will add to the creamy texture of the rice. Serve immediately on warm plates, with some additional Parmigiano-Reggiano and enjoy.
If you eliminate the saffron from this recipe you have a recipe for a basic risotto. It is delicious on its own, but you can also add a wide variety of ingredients such as asparagus, peas, corn, tomatoes, mushrooms, squash, artichokes, chicken, shrimp, lobster, scallops, or a combination of ingredients. Depending on the texture of the ingredient you might want to sauté it with the onions or add the softer ingredients to rice and cook for several minutes, as necessary. You can also cook the ingredients separately and add them at the end, or a minute or two earlier if they need to be reheated. In this way you can also prepare several different risotto dishes by cooking the vegetables, chicken or seafood separately, dividing the completed risotto and adding the different ingredients to the separate portions of the risotto. Once again, the varieties of risotto are endless.
Experiment and enjoy.