Spice up my risotto!
April 15, 2008 6:00 PM   Subscribe

I love risotto. I really do. But my recipe which is a chicken + spinach risotto is getting boring. I'd love to experiment a bit more.

My basic recipe as it stands is 2 cups rice, 6 cups stock, 1 cup white wine ~400g chicken, 200g frozen spinach.

I'm interested in sweet and savoury versions; also weird and wonderful ideas. Some ingredients may be hard to come by, though; I live in Australia.
posted by ysabet to Food & Drink (29 answers total) 76 users marked this as a favorite
My basic recipe as it stands is 2 cups rice, 6 cups stock, 1 cup white wine

You can add basically anything to the above that doesn't have too much liquid. If it has liquid you may have to adjust by subtracting some from your basic recipe.

(Sorry I'm not offering any specific suggestions. I wanted to be sure you understood that risotto is like pasta in that it's a base starch with flavoring. You can choose whatever flavoring you like once you learn how to make the base.)
posted by OmieWise at 6:08 PM on April 15, 2008

risotto is a great canvas for combining flavors - the basic recipe stays the same, just stir in different add-ins.

Roasted cubes of butternut squash, fresh sage, and plenty of parmesan is my winter favorite; in the spring I really like shrimp, blanched asparagus or fresh peas, and lemon (I don't finish with cheese, and find the rice starch plenty creamy on its own). In the summer, just try any mix of really fresh, very lightly blanched vegetables and a little parmesan (hint: a handful of roughly chopped arugula folded in at the table is never out of place). In the fall, a mix of mushrooms (combine dried and fresh, and use some of the mushroom soaking liquid as part of the broth) is nice, maybe even with a little sweet sausage.

Basically, just take whatever seasonal produce you've got, add a complementary herb, and stir them into risotto at the appropriate time (right at the end for items that you cook separately, like shrimp and squash cubes, and earlier for things like mushrooms)
posted by peachfuzz at 6:15 PM on April 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Fiasco's Red Risotto:
To your bog-standard risotto recipe (stock/rice/salt), add 1 chopped spanish onion fried in balsamic vinegar, a finely chopped stalk of celery, a red capsicum, 1-2 chopped tomatoes, fresh basil, chorizo and/or bacon, paprika, red wine, and chilli to taste.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:15 PM on April 15, 2008 [3 favorites]

A simple one is a 400g can of tomatoes, or passata, to replace some of the liquids, and a tin of those large white beans near the end. With basil, or tarragon.

We also do a lemon zest and celery one that's nice.

But yeah, do what you want with whatever flavours you think will match - it's just a matter of getting the liquids right (but I've never measured the liquids in my risotto ever, I keep adding slowly till it's done). And keep on stirring.
posted by wilful at 6:21 PM on April 15, 2008

Best answer: There is an Italian chef here in central Japan known for his roasted pear and cinnamon risotto. He also does amazing things with berries and tops them with mascarpone. My personal fave has already been mentioned by peachfuzz (butternut+sage+parmesan...only I substitute kabocha[Japanese pumpkin] for the butternut.)

Finally, even though my Aussie friends told me they are extremely hard to come by, there, a shaving or three of black truffle in any savoury risotto automatically elevates awesomeness levels.
posted by squasha at 6:27 PM on April 15, 2008

I'm a huge fan of this Mark Bittman recipe for asparagus risotto. In springtime, I add fava beans and fresh shelled peas at the end. It's very spring-y and yummy.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:56 PM on April 15, 2008

Best answer: Just to show that anything CAN be improved with beer: I'll suggest you beer risotto.
Never did it but my roommate used to do that all the time and it's very good.

Not very different from how you do any other kind of risotto. You just need beer, the obvious ingredients and some good sausage.
First you put some oil in a pan with some onions, then cook the sausage in it (better crushed than cut). When it's almost done you put the rice and start adding some beer. When the beer evaporate you start adding the stock until the rice is ready. might be a good idea to save some beer to add to the rice while you put stock in it.
Then might be a good idea to add some parmesan.

No idea on the quantities, I've alway cook "a occhio", trusting more common sense and previous experiences than correct numbers.
posted by darkripper at 7:07 PM on April 15, 2008 [3 favorites]

Saffron risotto with tomatoes
Use your usual proportions of ingredients, minus the chicken and spinach. To the stock add enough saffron to make a nice dark yellow. Proceed as usual, and when almost done, add 2 cups of fresh roma tomatoes, seeded and cubed. Sprinkle with a lot of Parmigiano or grana padano before serving.

Anchovies risotto
Use your usual proportions of ingredients, minus the chicken and spinach. Dissolve two tablespoons of anchovy paste in the stock. Proceed as usual, and when done, garnish each serving with a couple of rolled up anchovies (the ones with the caper in the middle). If you cannot find the rolled up, roll your own from a can of flat anchovies.
posted by francesca too at 7:08 PM on April 15, 2008

Simple and so delicious - omit the spinach and 2 cups of the stock, add chopped fresh tomatoes and their juices, a little basil, and add a generous amount of a good romano cheese at the end.
posted by iconomy at 7:17 PM on April 15, 2008

Response by poster: I've marked a few as really awesome - please keep the suggestions coming!

(Beer risotto - how very australian an idea!)
posted by ysabet at 7:21 PM on April 15, 2008

Best answer: ysabet -- I just made a risotto with an IPA base last night actually. I will disagree with darkripper in saying that beer should not be added at the end, and should only form the initial flavor base. Same would go for using white wine with risotto. Add it in the beginning, but not in the end. If you have excess alcohol, drink it as you cook to make the stirring go faster.

Tangy ingredients also go well with beer risotto. When the entire thing's just about cooked, stir in a dollop of mustard or horseradish and finish with cheddar.

Going back to standard risotto recipes with stock and rice -- if you're not adverse to pork products, I find that cooking some diced pancetta in the pot then removing the pancetta and adding in the rice makes for a good base as well. Return the cooked pancetta to the pot when finishing, and stir in with peas.
posted by bl1nk at 8:02 PM on April 15, 2008

Best answer: I have made caramel risotto. The process was a pain in the ass -- caramelizing the sugar took at least two tries, I don't remember anymore, but the first was a serious failure with very burnt sugar -- but the ultimate result was delicious and fabulous as standalone dessert, over ice cream, breakfast, and midday snack. It's on my list of Things That Will Make Me Popular When I Perfect Them For Parties. (I haven't perfected it yet though.)
posted by librarina at 8:29 PM on April 15, 2008 [2 favorites]

I'm a big fan of Giada's Dirty Risotto. I mix it up with Romano instead of Parmigiano and also usually add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes and 1/2 head roasted, mashed garlic. Yum. Wonderfully satisfying in winter.
posted by twiki at 8:47 PM on April 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: To one up the beer risotto, I've done bourbon risotto. Basically, it's plain regular risotto, but instead of the first batch of broth/wine, use a cup or so of bourbon. I use the nicer stuff that I don't prefer to drink (I like trying them...), but almost anything would work.

Just remember to take the pan off the heat when you actually pour the liquid in, reduces the chance of anything catching fire.

And as far as the output, it tastes great. It wouldn't be much of a main course like some others here, but is a great side dish.
posted by cschneid at 8:54 PM on April 15, 2008

I make mushroom risotto with dried porcini and whatever fresh mushrooms I can assemble. I soak the porcini in hot milk. I usually brown the fresh mushrooms. Use the soaking liquid from the porcini as part of the stock.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:56 PM on April 15, 2008

Diced Pumpkin, diced sweet potato, three or four (one for each diner) Italian sausages baked together for about half an hour with maybe three or four cloves of garlic and an onion and a tbl spoon of olive oil/ seasoned.

Keep one sausage, skin it and remove the contents. Discard skin.

While that's roasting away make the risotto.

In a large heavy skillet, add a bit of olive oil, some crushed garlic and some dry oregano. Heat through, add sausage mince, and tbl spoon of finely chopped fennel and a splash of good red wine. Cook it through till the wine is absorbed. Add the roasted vegetables, mix through, add the risotto, mix through.

Alternatives, nix the roasted onion and replace fennel with a leek. I like roasted onion flavour though.

Serve with fresh parmasan cheese.
posted by mattoxic at 9:00 PM on April 15, 2008

Best answer: I'm a sucker for risotto as well, but I got bored with all of the traditional european versions so I tried making a thai curry risotto. It's fantastic! Cook some onions and garlic and maybe some ginger and a nice dollop of thai curry paste then add the rice and some other veggies if you want. Add stock as you normally would but when it's about done throw in a can of coconut milk to make everything super creamy and delicious. The other bonus of this one is that, depending on the curry paste you use, this can be a vegan risotto.
posted by evilbeck at 9:06 PM on April 15, 2008 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I make what I call red risotto. I get some mince beef, which I spice up with some oregano, garlic, salt, pepper and so on. This I fry as little balls or flat sausages. The risotto itself has red wine instead of white, tomato paste and mushrooms. When it's done, gently stir the fried bits of beef into it. Yum!
posted by tomble at 10:15 PM on April 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Beetroot risotto - cube the beetroot into small cubes and cook it for a few minutes at the start, drop in the rice and do the standard risotto thing, drop in a dash of vodka and squeze of lemon juice at the end. I got the original idea from the excellent Cranks vegetarian cookbook by Nadine Abensur. I come out a shocking dark pink and tastes divine.
posted by simcd at 10:57 PM on April 15, 2008

Some ingredients may be hard to come by, though; I live in Australia.

Like ground-up unicorn horn? It's Australia, not Victorian England.
posted by oxford blue at 11:12 PM on April 15, 2008

Response by poster: oxford blue:

You're quite right; it's Australia. Among the above that are not grown/made locally are truffles, berries, some cheeses, and some varieties of beans. Meaning, they're at best hard to get - in the case of truffles, almost impossible.

I have found in the past it to be a good idea to mention my geographical location in order to aid those offering assistance with recipes; some ingredients just aren't available everywhere.
posted by ysabet at 11:45 PM on April 15, 2008

heh. I avoided saying something snarky...but I felt much the same as oxford blue when I read your question. unless you are in a wee outback town (in which case I understand) Australia's food shops have always impressed me. I've been up and down both coasts of your lovely country and have always been envious of the variety and quality at the supermarkets. central Japan, on the other hand, has only recently begun to get a wider variety of ingredients...like, say, zucchini/courgette. and the aforementioned black truffles.

I'm not complaining, it definitely forces creativity.

posted by squasha at 11:46 PM on April 15, 2008

Best answer: I always make a base of onion and garlic and fry the rice in that for a minute before adding the wine. Actually I use vermouth instead of wine. I always stir in butter and parmesan at the end, once it is off the heat, and then let it sit for a minute.

If I was making a chicken risotto I'd add pancetta to this base. (Unlike bl1nk I don't bother removing the pancetta, I just leave it in all through the cooking process.) I often when I use left over chicken I make more Asian version of risotto using normal long grain rice instead of risotto rice. I cook the chicken with diced carrots, red peppers, peas and sweetcorn. This goes nicely served with soy sauce.

Two of my favourite risottos:

Asparagus and prawn. You can just use your basic recipe but put the prawns in towards the end.

Leek and mushroom. Use a couple of leeks as your base instead of onion. Use a selection of mushrooms (chestnut, shitake, oyster, etc) and toss in a handful of tarragon.
posted by ninebelow at 2:51 AM on April 16, 2008

Smoked fish of any kind makes a jump-up-and-down-happy risotto. Try:

Saffron, white wine, smoked haddock, spring onions or leeks, and (right at the end) cream and/or Parmesan

White wine, smoked salmon, prawns, dill and (right at the end) cream and/or Parmesan

posted by Pallas Athena at 3:21 AM on April 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This recipe is amazing!... In involves adding an "herb paste" of taragon, chives and parsley at the end...

By AMANDA HESSER (New York Times)
Published: April 16, 2003
Time: 1 hour

Sea salt
3/4 pound asparagus, trimmed (blanched
1/4 cup each sliced chives, packed tarragon leaves and packed
flat-leaf parsley leaves
Coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 cups chicken broth
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 cup arborio rice
1/3 cup white wine
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Also... this one... simple and delicious!...

New York Times
March 21, 2007
Recipe: Risotto al Barolo
Adapted from "Molto Italiano" by Mario Batali (Ecco, 2005)

Time: 30 minutes

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 cup Barolo or other dry red wine
6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade, or low-sodium, canned
3 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, more for serving.
posted by timnyc at 4:46 AM on April 16, 2008

One of my favourite breakfasts is Tropical Breakfast Risotto. Basically you make risotto with pineapple juice and coconut milk, then top with fruit, raisins, and sliced almonds. I've also had great success with Jamie Oliver's risotto recipes. There are a couple on his website, and lots more in some of his cook books.
posted by carolr at 5:39 AM on April 16, 2008

I am a fan of bleu cheese and bacon risotto.
posted by bradbane at 6:14 AM on April 16, 2008

Best answer: Chestnut risotto with mushrooms. Make a standard "white" risotto (with chicken stock), add chestnut purée and fried mushrooms at the end (and lots of parmesan and mascarpone).

Another good one is a risotto where you use a can of peeled tomatoes and red wine as fluid.

Basically you can make a risotto with whatever vegetable that you can glaze in some butter or oil. The best texture is obtained when you add a decent cube of butter at the end, plus grated cheese.
posted by NekulturnY at 5:02 AM on April 17, 2008

2nd-ing Jamie Oliver's risotto recipes, here's one more that I love.
posted by altcountryman at 2:44 PM on April 17, 2008

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