Ok, so risotto isn't exactly summer food, especially on a 36c day, but I love it anytime. I guess it's the ingredients you add to it that can 'summer' it up.
Risotto was the first 'real' type of food that I ever learnt to cook. Once I learnt to cook it, I became obsessed with it for ages and still am!
Over time, I've learnt a few little tricks to making a good risotto. Some are plain obvious, but it suprising how many of my friends dont know them. So, here they are for your cooking pleasure;
- Use proper risotto rice, ie Aborio, Carnaroli, etc. These grains are used because they have a high starch content, which is what makes a good risotto creamy. You really don't ever need to add cream, unless the recipe calls for it. I hate the fact that at I now have to ask restaurants what rice they use, because so many times I get risotto made with plain white rice. It's disgusting. I dont even consider that to be risotto.
- Lightly dry fry your risotto rice, which will absorb the butter and olive oil in your fry pan after cooking your onion, garlic, etc. It will also help the rice to release it's starch, to make that lovely creamy risotto.
- Use the best stock you can. Most of the flavour in risotto comes from your stock, so use home made or if you have to buy it, try to buy a gourmet version or at the very least the liquid stock. Powdered stock is usually full of MSG and salt, however vegetarians I know like to use Vegeta.
- Keep your stock hot in a separate pot. This is so that when you add the stock to the rice, it doesn't lower the temperature of your pan and rice - making it take longer to cook and can often make the risotto gluggy.
- Add the stock a ladle at a time, dont pour it all in at once.
- Keep stirring. Some chefs say only stir occasionally, others say stir constantly. I say keep stirring for a couple of reasons. It helps release the starch from the grains, again giving you a creamier finished dish. It will also prevent your rice from catching on the bottom of the pan.
- Cook your rice to Al Dente, meaning it's ever so slightly crunchy in the middle. When you rest your risotto, it will continue cooking slightly, and because you cooked it to al dente, this will ensure a perfectly cooked risotto.
- When your risotto is done, drop some parmesan and a couple of knobs of butter and leave it to rest with the lid on for a few minutes. This helps to make your risotto less gluggy. Ideally you want a risotto that still has movement to it and will creep across the plate, rather than sitting in a big lump.