Risottos — an Introduction

Risottos are hard labor, and rich, but essential. Your goal is a creamy texture — as Carlo Middione says, “like a loose mud slide.” Be sure to have 35 or 40 ounces of broth at the ready.

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RISOTTO: basic steps

In a skillet soften a chopped onion in a tablespoon of butter, then turn up the heat, add 1 cup of long grain rice and sauté it for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, until opaque, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat some, add a cup of chicken or vegetable broth and a liberal sprinkle of saffron — repeat, liberal! — then during the next 30 minutes stir your maturing risotto almost continuously, adding more broth as the liquid is absorbed: this you will do six or eight times at least.

Accursed procedure? Perhaps, but YOU are the sculptor in charge, the constant hands-on creator of what will be a lovely finished product. Brahms lovers while circling their skillets with a motivated arm (or mimicking a kind of skater’s waltz of a Figure-8) might think of the soft tidal opening of the fourth symphony, at a rather leisurely tempo, say, of sixty-six half notes to the minute. The writer Jane Kramer used to stir to “the solemn rhythms of late Eliot,” but needing something “more hypnotic than sublime,” switched to the Argonautika of Apollonius.

Whatever your driving force, don’t be afraid to steal a standing wink or two along the way.

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