I learned about risotto from a man (let’s call him Lucky) who once drove into a house. At the time, Lucky was a talented sous chef at a highly regarded fine dining restaurant, and known among cooks in the area as something of a risotto master.

April 20, 2008

I learned about risotto from a man (let’s call him Lucky) whoonce drove into a house. One of those big, old New England homes with no front yard, built right on the street. (Which is why it bearsblame, at least if you ask Lucky.)

At the time, Lucky was a talented sous chef at a highly regardedfine dining restaurant, and known among cooks in the area as something of arisotto master. But like some professional cooks, he also had a knack fortrouble.

It was a late-night collision. He lost control of his car andplowed into the front porch, which helped soften the blow to the living room. Nobodywas seriously hurt. The house was unoccupied, and Lucky walked (or more likely dashed)away from the wreck. Thanks to the four-door piece of evidence he left at thescene, local police soon tracked him down. I don’t recall the upshot, though Ithink he may have been relieved of his license for a little while. 

Still, the incident will never tarnish Lucky’s professional reputation.Personally, I won’t spend a night on the town with him, but I’ll gladly eat hisrisotto any time.

Risotto, Lucky’s Way:

No recipe here, just a few valuable tips gleaned from a pro.I can’t promise you’ll become a disciple to the method, but I can tell youthese things make a difference...

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  • First, soften youronions beyond tender, to the point where they have no bite left. To do thiswithout browning them requires the lowest heat and occasional stirring for 20minutes or so. Adding some salt at the start will help keep them fromcaramelizing. In the end, the onions will practically dissolve into the risottostarch, making the flavor more complex and satisfying.
  • Try Carnaroli rice.Preferable to Arborio in various ways, Carnaroli cooks more evenly and producesa creamier risotto. It also cooks faster and absorbs more liquid, so if you’recooking from a recipe that calls for Arborio, you may want to have a littleextra cooking liquid on hand. Carnaroli is more expensive, but if risotto isimportant to you, it’s worth every penny.  
  • Beat that rice likeit owes you money. Some cooks give the rice a lazy occasional stir, justenough to keep it from sticking to the bottom. You need more friction. Constant,vigorous stirring rubs the grains against each other and gives off the starchthat creates risotto’s prized creaminess. Consider it your premeal workout, anda justification for a dollop of…
  • Truffle butter ormarscapone to finish.  If your dietallows for it, stirring in a touch of either (or yes, even both) of theseingredients just before serving makes the dish absolutely irresistible.Indulgent? Perhaps. Reckless? Hardly. It’s not like you’re driving into a houseor something. 

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