it is true, when stephanie isn't around i keep odd hours. in the kitchen and on the click'e-ti-clack, the key board. i also experiment on the daring side far more, can't disappoint my love, when she is hungry, can i? not that she is so very choosy, a few times in our criss cross she has exclaimed in that peculiar voice: oh, that's nice! i then know that those tiny squid stay left field on her plate, and though she'll cross her heart to have them next day for lunch, we both know next day lunch never comes.
it won't happen often, which is why my risotto experiments are done when she is off side. a good risotto won't translate into a next day's lunch, it just won't, it'll turn grainy or worse, mushy, and who wants to eat that? superb off the stove, alarming at midnight, with an option for pudding, good god, any time later. you see, risotto is one of those dishes best devoured hot from the pot. regardless, the dish is highly dependent on an appropriate rice. yes, in war time any rice will make some kind of soup, even a risotto, but wars are now far away, though seemingly never ending, sadly. but in a relative peace my personal rations won't exclude carnaroli nor vialone nano. after the war, that war still called "the war", minaele, my much loved grandmother, you must by now be familiar with, had a stash, a much coveted sack of rice, she claimed it to be italian, venetian she'd say in a voice, but my minaele might parry a lot of things, the more, when the day was long.
so, really, any short grain rice might make, under felicitous supervision, some kind of risotto. certainly those, the carnaroli or vialone, are rendering distinct character, like a delicious creamy consistency and an ability to render outside flavors, mushrooms, sausage or what ever else the cook might hanker for, without losing texture or inherent virtue.
i prefer a superfino vialone nano. cooked "all ondo", it maintains a superb creaminess but retains the "al dente" of each individual grain.
so, tonight it was simply just that. to begin with, a soffritto of minced shallots in butter, then the tostatura of the rice in olive oil, followed by joining these, then the rendering of a risotto, the deep chicken broth, ladle by hot ladle. in the end, to enhance the creaminess beyond mere reduction, grated parmigiano reggiano and censorious butter, i mostly use the one produced by the straus family. i like the butter to be icily cold, cut into small bits and added one by one, which allows the rice to absorb the fat in a gradual way, avoiding a greasy, unctuous plethora.
i never know how to give proper proportions. some say one to four, but as often as not i might use three and a half cups of broth one day and five the next. the state of the rice, humidity, the consistency of the liquid, fatty or pale, the ways of the soffritto, using onions or shallots, it's a mob's horse race, regardless. so i recommend to have enough broth at hand, on the boil, to add as needed. and again, i always go mostly by feel, when is the stuff ready to eat? all ondo at that? the rice by then will be translucent, but still of a grain, creamy, giving way to a dulcet mellow. my spoon falleth over. too much poetics? well, that's what a risotto oughter be. come on, gimme a break, the stuff's gotta be verse, tunefully sapphic or sorcery chant, if you can get it there, mere rhymin' simon simply won't do.