At St. Supery Estate Vineyards and Winery, Chef Roberto Donna demonstrated how to make risotto. He’s originally from Turin in Northern Italy, the region where short grained risotto rice comes from, and so he knows good rice. A great risotto, we learned from him, is in the details.
1. If in DC, do not hand politicians a truffle and assume they won’t think you mean chocolate truffles and take a bite of them. It happens.
2. The rice is important. The shorter, with more starch, the creamier the risotto will be. Arborio rice is a good short grain rice, but check and make sure it’s not over one year old. The best is Aquelado, which comes in a can and is aged in Italy so it has a nuttier flavor. (These tips do seem contradictory, but there’s a difference between deliberately aged and stale).
3. Rice hates humidity. Once a bag is open, put in Ziplock in dry storage. Don’t keep it in the refrigerator. Moisture will destroy the seed and make it mushy.
4. Heat olive oil in a pan and then add the risotto. Keep a constant eye on this, shake the pan a little so the rice doesn’t burn. Toasting rice first seals the outside and make the grain stronger. It also eliminates unwanted flavor from packaging and the seed is stronger for cooking.
5. Add finely chopped onions. These have a lot of acidity, so you want to cook them until they are sweet.
6. Add a splash of white wine around the pan so it evaporates.
7. Add chicken stock and moving by holding onto pan. Make sure it doesn’t stick. Don’t over cook the rice. You want it al dente, as it will keep cooking when you remove it from the heat. When it’s almost ready-about 12 minutes-add only small amounts of stock so that it doesn’t have too much liquid which will make the rice mushy.
8. Turn off the heat. Add lots of butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, chopped herbs and truffles.
9. You want it to be dense, and a little wavey. This is known as “Onda”, little wave, in Italy.