Classic Italian Risotto

Classic Italian Risotto

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Everything I know about risotto I learned from rice farmer Ariane Lotti over the last four years while living and working on her organic rice farm in Tuscany, Italy. This classic Italian recipe is characterized by four main steps—tostatura, sfumatura, cottura and mantecatura—in which the rice is toasted, the wine is added, the rice is patiently stirred, and finally, the dish is finished with butter and cheese. Risotto is made with only a few simple ingredients, so it’s an ideal base for just about any vegetable (although it’s also the perfect comfort food as is). 

Many risotto recipes recommend using arborio rice, but any Italian will tell you risotto must be prepared with carnaroli rice. Arborio, like carnaroli, is a medium-grain rice, but the higher starch content of carnaroli rice gives a distinct creaminess to the risotto, while also helping to ensure the individual kernels maintain a chewy consistency.


For the vegetable stock:

  • Any vegetables or vegetable scraps you have on hand, roughly chopped (for example: 1 celery stalk, 1 carrot, 1 onion)

For the risotto:

  • 2 cups carnaroli rice 
  • 1 onion or shallot, finely diced 
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 
  • ½ cup dry white wine 
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • ½ cup grated parmesan 
  • Kosher salt

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  1. Prepare the vegetable stock. Add vegetables to a large pot along with 8 cups of water. Bring to a simmer. Leave on medium heat for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally.
  2. When the stock is almost finished, add olive oil and the finely-diced onion or shallot to a large sauté pan. Cook until transparent.
  3. Tostatura: Add the rice to the pan and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. The rice will give off a pleasant “toasted” smell, but should not become browned.
  4. Sfumatura: Add the wine to the pan, stirring until the liquid has fully evaporated.
  5. Cottura: Add enough vegetable stock to the pan to cover the rice. Stir until the liquid is absorbed, then add more stock to cover the rice again. Repeat this step as necessary for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, taste the rice, testing to see if it has achieved the ideal al dente texture. If the rice is too hard, continue stirring and adding stock for a few more minutes.
  6. Mantecatura: Turn off the heat. Stir in the butter and parmesan. Season with salt to taste.
  7. Ladle into individual bowls and garnish with grated parmesan.
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