Risotto al radicchio
Whoever said that making risotto was difficult and time consuming? Sure, we can’t always have home-made stock on hand. I use chicken stock powder or cubes when I don’t and no one has ever complained about it. In fact, quite a few years ago, a couple of friends were eating a risotto I had made and raving about the wonderful flavour of the stock. I never lie about taking short cuts, but I just couldn’t bring myself to confessing to that one.
Once you have got the basic technique you can make any sort of risotto. We are big on risotto in the Veneto region. We have it more often than pasta! It is not untypical to have a risotto made with just one main ingredient as with this one. Take pumpkin, cabbage and even potato! (Recipe follows…)
What you will need:
A heavy based saucepan
1 big brown or red onion (I never use white onions), finely sliced
1 cup short grain rice – you can use Arborio rice but I like medium grain sun rice
Chicken stock (or a kettle of boiling water to which you have added stock powder)
2 heads of radicchio
½ cup of red or white wine (if you like)
Sauté the onion in the olive oil until it has changed colour. Personally, I like the flavour of caramelised onions for this risotto so I let them go golden, taking care that they do not burn.
Washing the rice is something most Italians don’t do, however, I spent too much time in Japan and like it thoroughly washed and thoroughly drained. Who needs those extra starch calories?
Add the rice to the onions, stirring and making sure the rice gets coated with the oil. When the rice has toasted and is starting to stick, start adding some boiling stock. If you are going to use some wine, now is the time to add it. One of the secrets to making a good risotto is to never let it go off the simmer. When the stock has absorbed, add some more. Don’t think you have to stand over the pot the whole time. You don’t. Keep doing this until the rice is almost cooked, or al dente.
Add a knob of butter to the rice and stir well before taking off the heat. Make sure that there is enough moisture in your risotto. This is a personal thing, however, I should mention that the Venetians like their risotto con l’onda (with the wave).
Serve it with grated parmesan cheese.
Tip: I don’t know anyone who measures the rice with a measuring cup. The Italian way is to measure in your hand: two handfuls per person plus another two for good measure (or to have for lunch the next day).