When in Italy, be prepared to order water and to pay for it by the bottle, either natural or with bubbles (sparkling). Another simple part of life that we take for granted in the States is the ability to receive a free glass of natural, clean tap water with re-fills (including ice) in restaurants . . . and here in the Carolina’s in our restaurants of choice, my husband and I are even given free, tall, large-sized ‘to-go’ cups of water! Keep that in mind in Italy, you pay for every little thing in restaurants!
You even pay to go to the ‘toilettes’, so bring Euro coins because most do not offer change for larger bills.
Expect no ice cubes in your water . . . it doesn’t happen in Italy, although the bottled water that you order (anywhere) for a price is extremely cold and completely refreshing.
- 5 to 6 cups chicken stock (brood), preferably home-made (you can search on my blog for a delicious home-made chicken broth (brodo) that is also freezable!)
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1-1/2 cups short-grain Italian rice (preferably 'Vialone' or 'Carnaroli rice)
- 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2/3 cup freshly grated, first quality Parmigiana-Regiano cheese, plus extra grated cheese to pass around the table.
- Freshly grated sea salt and black pepper to taste.
- Bring the chicken stock (brodo) to a simmer in a saucepan and keep it at a bare/lowest simmer.
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan and cook the onion over medium heat, stirring until the onion is golden, but not brown, about 3 - 5 minutes.
- Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon to coat the rice well with the oil and onion.
- Turn the heat up to medium-high.
- Add 1/2 cup of the simmering stock, and keep the mixture boiling, stirring constantly.
- As soon as the stock as been absorbed, add another 1/3 cup of stock and stir until it is absorbed.
- Adjust when necessary, the heat from time to time -- but keep the risotto boiling, yet at the same time, it must NOT stick to the pot.
- If the risotto tends to stick, put the pot on a 'flame tamer' (I place a pizza or cookie pan on top of the burner).
- Continue adding the chicken stock (brodo), about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and waiting until each addition of brodo is absorbed before adding the next amount of stock (brodo), until the rice is creamy and tender on the outside with each grain still distinct and firm.
- This will take at least 20 minutes, maybe as long as 30 minutes, depending on your pot and your stove.
- If the rice is still a bit hard in the middle after you have used all but a few tablespoons of the stock, add some boiling water, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring it in as you did the stock (brodo), until each grain of rice is tender but still has the slightest bit of firmness and the mixture is creamy.
- Remove the pan from the heat and vigorously stir in the butter and the Parmigiana-Regiano cheese. This stirring will make the risotto even creamier.
- Taste and season with freshly cracked sea salt and black pepper.
- While continuing to stir vigorously, add the remaining tablespoons of hot chicken stock (brodo) or boiling water if you have used all of the stock (brodo) to make the consistency softer and softer.
- In Italy it is called "all'onda" (like a wave).
- Taste carefully for seasoning and serve immediately, passing a bowl of grated Parmigiana-Regiano cheese.
- (from "The Harry's Bar Cookbook" by Arrigo Cipriani, 2006)
- This recipe is 'basic' for all risotto dishes.