The Tribune - Spectrum



Sunday, January 16, 2000
Sugar 'n' Spice


Italian-style rice
By Harkiran Sodhi

Risotto is considered a meal by itself

RICE can be cooked and presented in a variety of ways. The Chinese like their rice with either vegetables or chicken mixed into it, while we in India like to not only eat it as an accompaniment but make complete rice dishes such as biryanis, khichiris and pulaos. Today we will try out two rice dishes from Italy. Undoubtedly we tend to associate Italians with pizza, pasta anything but rice.

Pasta is more prevalent in the southern parts of Italy while in the northern areas rice is commonly used. There are two special rice based dishes from this area that are famous and we are giving both the recipes to you today.

Risotto, is a famous Italian rice dish that is made from Piedmontese or arborio rice. This rice has a medium grain and these are round in shape. This rice absorbs water very easily without disintegrating and has a characteristic soft and moist texture, which is not sticky. White or pale yellow in colour this rice can take the long slow hours of cooking that risotto so often needs.

  A perfect risotto, ideally, should be a creamy mass with each grain retaining a slightly resistant core. This is either served plain or simply served flavoured with butter and cheese. When you are being entertained then risotto can also be served with mushrooms, tomatoes, meat poultry etc.

Usually a risotto is considered a meal in itself and no other dish is served with this with the exception of the risotto Milanese that has a traditional accompaniment of Osso Buco Milanese. In case you do not have Italian rice available then you can use the regular short grained Indian rice, which will suffice.

Risotto

Ingredients

125 gm or 1/2 a cup of butter.

1 medium sized onion chopped fine.

3-4 cloves of garlic chopped.

650 gm or 3 cups of Italian arborio rice (or the regular grained Indian rice).

2 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley.

2 litres or 8 cups of chicken stock.

6 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese.

Some extra grated Parmesan cheese to serve.

Salt and pepper.

Method:

Melt 60 gm or 4 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan and lightly fry the onions and the garlic in it. When the onion turns golden and soft, add in the chopped parsley to it. Cook over a low heat for a minute or two and then add in the rice. Fry for 3-4 minutes stirring constantly, and then add in 250 ml or 1 cup of boiling stock to it. Cover and cook on a low flame till the entire stock is absorbed. Continue cooking and add in the 250 ml or 1 cup of the stock at a time stirring it occasionally for 20 -30 minutes or till all the stock is absorbed by the rice and the rice is tender and cooked.

Season the rice with salt and pepper to taste and add in the remaining butter and the grated cheese. Leave the risotto on a low flame for a few minutes till you serve it. When you serve it keep the extra grated Parmesan cheese to be put over it as people like.

The same risotto can be made adding mushrooms to it as well. 250 gm or 2 cups mushrooms, which have been sliced, can be added in with the parsley in the same recipe as given above. All the other procedures and ingredients will remain the same. Similarly, instead of the mushrooms tomatoes, peas, beans or any other vegetables or poultry or prawns can be added in the same proportion and manner and cooked similarly.

Risotto Milanese

Ingredients

125 gm or 1/2 a cup of butter

1 small onion chopped fine

430 gm or 2 cups of Italian risotto rice or any short grained rice

120 ml or 1/2 litres of dry white wine

1- 1/2 litres or 4-5 cups of chicken stock

1/4 teaspoon saffron powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water

60 gm or 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Method:

Melt 60 gm or 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan and add in the chopped onion and fry till it is soft. Add in the rice and mix it well so that it is all coated with the butter. Pour in the wine and cook over medium heat till the wine has nearly evaporated. Stir in 250 ml or 1 cup of the chicken stock and simmer stirring occasionally for 10 minutes or so till the rice has absorbed the stock. Gradually add in about two cups more of the stock and keep cooking it but don’t let the rice dry out. Add in the dissolved saffron and remaining butter and Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately on its own or with extra grated Parmesan cheese.

This feature was published on January 9, 1999

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