I love risotto. I love the variety of ingredients you can add to the humble rice, and make it a truly gourmet meal. Plain, with just saffron, or loaded with veggies, it really is a crowd pleaser. I love also that you have to dedicate your time to risotto, it makes me feel like I am making something with a lot of love and patience. Mind you, it isn’t the longest dish to prepare, but it is constant.
I remember I didn’t particularly like risotto when I first tried it. I thought it wasn’t cooked properly. But, of course, I later realized that like pasta in Italy, the rice has to be al dente too. Risotto is also a tricky dish, in so that you really have to practice a few times to get it to be perfect. My first attempts were complete disasters. One turned out to be a sticky mess, that you could plaster walls with, the next one, watery and runny. Only with practice and the guide of my fantastic Zio Gianni did I learn how to really cook food, with mastery and patience. Now, I can basically make it with my eyes closed, since it was a dish that I prepared daily at my restaurant. I can tell by sight when I am going to add the last spoonful of stock, and if you pay attention, and practice, you will too.
I decided to use some Spanish ingredients, to mix it up a bit. I love that risotto is a blank canvas, where you as the artist can create your own masterpiece.
So, if you fancy trying this version of mine, here’s what you’re going to need:
1 tbsp Olive oil
2 tbsp Butter
1/2 Onion, finely minced
1 glass Dry White Wine
120 g Carnaroli rice
6 cups Chicken Stock
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1/4 cup Jamon Iberico or Prosciutto, julienned, plus a tsp for garnish
1/4 Zucchini, julienned
1 cup Manchego Cheese, grated
1 tsp Chives, minced, for garnish
In a stock pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer. Keep hot. In a large and deep sauté pan, add the tbsp of olive oil and tbsp of butter, over low heat. When melted, add the onion and sauté, until very soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Raise the heat to high, and add the rice, and salt; cook, stirring constantly, until the rice starts to become translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add the white wine, and let it evaporate. Add enough stock to fully cover the rice, about 3 ladles full. Lower the heat to medium, and cook, stirring constantly. (Until you get the hang of it, and so it won’t over cook, taste the rice after each addition until it is almost fully cooked, but has just a little bit of bite. ) When the stock has evaporated, but there is just a little bit of film on top, add another ladle full of stock, trying the rice, and continue stirring. This should take between 10-12 minutes approx. On your last ladle full of stock, add the zucchini and ham. Cook, stirring until the stock is almost completely evaporated, but still creamy. Turn off heat, and add the remaining tbsp of butter and the cheese, and mix. Cover and let it sit for about 2-3 minutes. This part is called mantecare. Mix well again, add the pepper and more salt if needed, and serve with the ham and chives to garnish. Buon Appetitto!
From my kitchen to yours,