Risotto Classic With Escarole

From Opera To Risotto

     Risotto is one of those dishes that can define the competence of an Italian cook. Flavor and consistency are the determinants, and bragging rights among cooks are highly sought after. As a matter of fact, Giuseppe Verdi was very proud of his rendition. He would challenge other cooks to see if they could eclipse his. Verdi’s wife is quoted as saying, “Giuseppe’s risotto is truly a dish he makes in divine fashion.”

   Risotto gets its name from “riso,” the Italian word for rice. There are many varieties to choose from, but in this country Arborio rice seems to be the most common and easiest to find.

     There’s no end to the list of ingredients that can be added, but many prefer a simple classic recipe. Broth, butter, onion, garlic, white wine, and rice are all one needs to serve a risotto that is rich and creamy and so delicious. While the ingredients are important, proper cooking technique and patience have more to do with creating a great risotto.


Pulling a wooden spatula through the red onion risotto. It’s now ready for the butter and parmesan cheese to be added.

The Secret To A Creamy Risotto

     To begin with, to get the desired nutty flavor, the rice needs to be toasted in butter or oil. Then the husk is removed by adding white wine which is stirred constantly until almost all of the liquid is gone. This is an important step in the cooking process.

     Next, heated broth is stirred into the mixture one cup at a time. During this process the rice will release its starch, which is what gives the rice its creamy texture. Some say the risotto should be stirred constantly during this process, but many think too much stirring causes the rice grains to lose their shape and integrity. And if (like Verdi) you want your risotto made in “divine fashion,” the shape and integrity of your rice is of the utmost importan

Risotto Classic With Escarole

yields: 4 Servings prep time: Assembling ingredients cook time: 55 minutes
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3 cups 2 Tbsp 1 Tbsp 1 2 cloves 1 cup 1/2 cup 1 cup 3/4 cup Light drizzling
Chicken broth Butter Vegetable oil Onion (large) Garlic Italian Arborio rice White wine (dry Chardonnay preferred) Greens (such as escarole or spinach) cleaned and chopped Cheese grated (parmesan, pecorino, asiago, or mixture) Truffle oil (optional)
  • 3 cups
    Chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp
  • 1 Tbsp
    Vegetable oil
  • 1
    Onion (large)
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 cup
    Italian Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup
    White wine (dry Chardonnay preferred)
  • 1 cup
    Greens (such as escarole or spinach) cleaned and chopped
  • 3/4 cup
    Cheese grated (parmesan, pecorino, asiago, or mixture)
  • Light drizzling
    Truffle oil (optional)

Time: __________ (55 minutes prior to target time)

  1. Heat chicken broth in sauce pan until hot, but not boiling.

  2. Heat 1 Tbsp of butter and oil in a 5-6 quart Dutch oven over medium heat.

  3. Add onions and slowly cook for 2-3 minutes.

  4. Add garlic and rice. Sauté for 2- 3 minutes.

  5. Add wine a little at a time and stir until liquid is absorbed (you want rice to touch each other to rub off starch).

  6. Add hot stock one cup at a time, stir continuously with a flat-edged wooden spoon between each addition.   When liquid is absorbed (the spoon is pulled through the rice without it falling back in the trench), then add more.

  7. With approximately ½ cup of stock remaining, stir the greens.

  8. Once all of the stock has been added, remove from stove and stir in butter and cheeses.

  9. Season with salt and pepper after tasting.

  10. Drizzle with truffle oil.

Wine: A nice oaky chardonnay would pair nicely and compliment the meal.Other foods: A small amount of protein (chops) and a bit of vegetable would be nice, but THE RISOTTO IS THE MAIN COURSE.

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