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Trail: risotto



Fresh Corn Risotto with Basil, Tomato, and Lime

~from The Joy of Cooking

1 cup peeled and diced ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt
5 cups chicken stock
2 cups corn kernels from 4 or 5 large ears (I used frozen corn once and it was still delicious)
2 tablespoons butter, preferably unsalted
½ cup finely chopped scallions (white part only)
1 ½ cups Italian rice (I use Arborio rice)
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup grated parmesan cheese

Combine the first four ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Purée 1 cup of the corn kernels in a food processor.
Heat the butter in a large saucepan medium hat until the foam subsides. Cook the scallions for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Keep them from browning by not letting the heat become to high.
Add the rice and stir, coating the grains with butter.
Add the wine (I love the the hisssssssss as the wine hits the grains coated with hot butter)!
Cook and stir until the wine is absorbed.
Here is the key to creamy, perfectly textured risotto: using a ladle, add 1 cup of stock to the rice. Stir the rice over medium heat until the stock is absorbed. Add the remaining stock, one ½ at a time, cooking and stirring until the liquid is almost completely absorbed before adding more. (Sometimes I get impatient and I add a cup of stock instead of a ½ cup, but I have to do that when my husband isn’t watching or else I get slapped on the wrist with a hot, brothy ladle.)
Keep adding stock in ½ increments, stirring all the while, until the rice is almost tender, about 15 minutes. Add the puréed corn mixture with some more stock and stir for another five or ten minutes, until rice is tender. Add the non-puréed corn kernels and the fresh tomato mixture. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. Don’t you dare use the icky Fake Parmesan Cheese in the green cylinder! Instead, try to find an aged hunk of parmesan, preferably imported, and grate it yourself, lovingly, with a vegetable peeler.

Morgan Library Wild Mushroom Risotto

The Chef of the Morgan Dining Room shares with us the recipe for the delicious Wild Mushroom Risotto below:

1 cup Arborio rice (For a faster cooking time, we recommend soaking the rice in water overnight first)
1 shallot
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup mushrooms (trumpet, shitake)
¼ cup chiffonade of basil
¼ cup parmesan cheese
2 tbsp butter
pinch of saffron
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

Mince the shallot and sweat with olive oil for 5 minutes. Add rice and completely coat with onion and olive oil. Slowly add broth and a pinch of saffron and simmer until rice is al dente.

Sautee the mushrooms in olive oil to desired wellness. Add desired amount of rice and mix well with mushrooms. Add desired amount of broth and simmer for one minute. Add parmesan and basil then sauté before finishing with butter and salt and pepper. Top with steamed spring vegetables or roasted fall vegetables.


It is not hard to make a good risotto. But you have to stand over it for at least 20 minutes and this makes it difficult for dinner parties. The dish doesn’t allow shortcuts and can’t be successfully prepared in advance.

To make a good risotto, use only Italian risotto rice. Arborio is the one most commonly available in American markets. The grains of this rice are short and stubby and absorb liquid without becoming gluey (unless they are overcooked). The rice is stirred constantly, with hot stock added a cup at a time, until it has reached a point of softness but with the grains retaining their shape. They should be creamy, with a slightly resistant core and should not stick together or to the bottom of the pan. The whole procedure takes about 20 minutes.

Use a wide, heavy saucepan or skillet (if the pan is too light, the risotto can burn) and a wooden spoon to stir the rice. Always add hot stock (preferably homemade) and, except in the case of seafood, aged Parmigiano Reggiano cheese that is freshly grated. — From “For Family and Special Friends, Risotto,” by Moira Hodgson, in The New York Times.

A Recipe for Basic Risotto

The most important part of any risotto is, of course, the rice. Arborio or, less commonly, vialone are the classic choices; they are short-grain varieties that will result in a creamy product that retains a slight bite to each grain. Using regular long-grain rice will produce a mushy, gummy mass.

The next essential ingredient in risotto is the broth or stock. As always, homemade stock is preferable, but a low-sodium canned stock will work fine (bouillon cubes tend to be too salty and should only be used in emergencies). Make sure you have the stock on a low simmer as you prepare the rice.

Any risotto follows this basic formula at its start; additional flavors and ingredients are added afterwards.

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock (low-sodium if canned)
1 tablespoon butter
½ medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup arborio or vialone rice
1 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
½ cup grated parmigiano cheese
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt and black pepper, to taste.

1. Bring stock to a simmer in a stockpot over medium-low heat; reduce heat to low. Meanwhile, in a heavy bottomed pot, heat the butter (or use part butter and part olive oil) over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.

2. Add the rice and cook over medium-high heat for about one minute, stirring to coat with the butter. Add the white wine and stir until the wine is absorbed, about 30 seconds.

3. Add the first addition of simmering stock, about 1/2 cup. Stir until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add another addition of stock and stir until most of the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this process until the mixture is creamy and a bit loose; the rice should still have some chew to it. The process will take about 20 minutes.

4. Turn off the heat and stir in the chopped parsley and the grated cheese to taste. Season with salt and pepper.

Yield: 2 main-course servings, 4 appetizer servings. — From “Basic Risotto,” by Robert Shapiro, The New York Times