Risotto derived from riso meaning "rice", is a northern Italian rice dish cooked in a broth to a creamy consistency. The broth can be derived from meat, fish, or vegetables. Many types of risotto contain butter, onion, white wine, and parmesan cheese.
It is one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy. Saffron was originally used for flavour and its attractive yellow colour.
In vegetable risotto you can add/use vegetables of your choice, like mushrooms, bell peppers, carrots, asparagus, zucchini etc. You may or may not use white wine in risotto. I prepare it without white wine.
I had firstly vegetable risotto rice when went to Rome, Italy with my husband. We liked it so much and we also then tried mushroom risotto and asparagus risotto.
Now we started preparing it at home. We add the vegetables as are available at home. We like this yummy Italian dish and cook it frequently at home.
A high-starch (amylopectin), low-amylose round medium- or short- grain white rice is usually used for making risotto. Such rices have the ability to absorb liquids and to release starch and so they are stickier than the long grain varieties.
There are many different risotto recipes with different ingredients, but they are all based on rice of an appropriate variety, cooked in a standard procedure. Risotto, unlike other rice dishes, requires constant care and attention. The rice is not to be pre-rinsed, boiled, or drained, as washing would remove much of the starch required for a creamy texture.
The rice is first cooked briefly in a soffritto of onion and butter or olive oil, to coat each grain in a film of fat, called tostatura; white wine is added and must be absorbed by the grains. When it has been absorbed the heat is raised to medium high, and boiling stock is gradually added in small amounts, while stirring constantly. The constant stirring, with only a small amount of liquid present, forces the grains to rub against each other and release the starch molecules from the outside of the grains into the surrounding liquid, creating a smooth creamy-textured mass.
When the rice is cooked the pot is taken off the heat for mantecatura, vigorously beating in refrigerated balls of grated parmesan cheese and butter, to make the texture as creamy and smooth as possible. It may be removed from the heat a few minutes earlier and left to cook with its residual heat.
Properly cooked risotto is rich and creamy even if no cream is added, due to the starch in the grains. It has some resistance or bite (al dente) and separate grains. The traditional texture is fairly fluid, or all'onda ("wavy, or flowing in waves"). It is served on flat dishes and should easily spread out but not have excess watery liquid around the perimeter. It must be eaten at once, as it continues to cook in its own heat, making the grains absorb all the liquid and become soft and dry.