Jacqui's Top 10 Risotto Tips...
- Use a heavy, wide-based pot with a lid; this is best for even heating.
- When using the no-stir Ferron method, always measure how much rice you add to the pot. The ratio should be twice (or even slightly more) the quantity of hot stock to your rice i.e. 2 cups (or slightly more) of hot stock to 1 cup of rice.
- Start by making a 'soffrito' using finely chopped shallots or onion and gently sauté in a little extra virgin olive oil until soft. Avoid using butter, as this will burn readily.
- Always heat (toast) the rice grains until they are hot to touch, but not brown.
- Use good quality stock, which can be diluted with water.
- Add the stock all at once to the heated rice. Once added, bring to the boil, add the salt, turn down the heat, stir gently - Ferron prefers a wooden spoon - cover the pot and simmer on a low heat for 15-18 minutes.
- Ingredients that have very short cooking time, greens like spinach and finely sliced silver beet, seafood and white-fleshed fish should be added near the end. Add these after you have taken the pot off the heat and let them cook on stored heat.
- Once the rice is cooked, let it sit for a moment then stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to release the starches for a naturally creamy result. This is called 'mantecare'.
- Avoid using cheese and butter with seafood-based risottos.
- Add more stock (or hot water) at the end when you do the 'mantecare' if you want a wetter, creamier risotto and the heat has been a little too high to give you this.
Jacqui's favourite risotto ideas...
Here are some ideas of what to add to your basic no-stir Ferron method risotto. The flavour and ingredient combinations are endless really however, with risotto simple is best. Here are some of our family favourites.
- Add the flavour of capers by draining them and stirring through the risotto towards the end of the cooking time, or fry the capers quickly in a very hot pan with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil so they are crisp and crunchy, and use to garnish each serving. For a richer risotto add some of our cooked Sabato duck confit.
- Add some finely sliced or diced pancetta or coppa when cooking the shallots or onion. Fold through some small Salvagno pitted olives in extra virgin olive oil towards the end of your cooking time and dust each serving with finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
- Cut up and cook some chicken breast or thighs with the shallots or onions in extra virgin olive oil, continue cooking your risotto and add baby spinach leaves or finely sliced silver beet at the very end. You could crisp up some small Salvagno pitted olives in extra virgin olive oil in a very hot pan and add these at the end as well. Finish with finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
- Take a generous pinch of Gohar saffron and bruise it with the back of a spoon or in a small mortar and pestle, and add it to your stock. Then add some peeled prawns to your risotto towards the end (so as to not over-cook them).
- Add your favourite blue cheese to the basic risotto recipe at the resting stage and then fold through gently to soften and distribute evenly through before serving.
- Stir basil pesto through your risotto at the very end of your cooking time, because of the Parmigiano already in the pesto you may not need to add any grated to the top. Delicious served with warm, whole roasted vine tomatoes on the side.
- A rich, full-flavoured red wine, such as Rocca Nebbiolo, with the small Salvagno pitted olives is another great flavour combination.
- Finish your basic risotto by stirring through approx. one-third of a jar of one of your favourite Sabato pasta sauces, pastes or bruschetta. Top with finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
- Left over risotto can be readily re-heated with the addition of a bit more stock - or you can add a beaten egg to it, shape it into individual patties and fry with extra virgin olive oil.
- Make arancini -- stir in Sabato porcini crema and an egg to bind it, mould Sabato porcini bruschetta in the middle, coat with breadcrumbs and fry until golden on all sides.