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How to make a perfect Risotto

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Risotto is a wonderful versatile dish, as you can add anything to it to suit your taste. Its the best comfort food for the approaching winter, and so much more simple than people believe, the recipe below makes a plain risotto for 6 main courses.
What you'll need: 
approx 2 pints of hot chicken or vegetable stock, shop bought or a cube is fine
2 tablespoons of olive oil
a large knob of butter
1 large or 2 small onions finely chopped
400g of risotto rice (arborio, carnaroli or nano)
120g parmesan cheese grated
2 cloves of garlic crushed
175ml glass of dry white wine
salt and pepper
First, heat the olive oil a heavy based, high sided saucepan on a medium heat, medium heat is important when making risotto as you do not want it to cook too fast, then add the diced onion and garlic and cook gently without colour for 3-4 minutes.
Add in the rice and stir well to mix all the ingredients together. Now add the white wine and stir. You need to cook the white wine and rice together until all the alcohol has gone away, this will take 2-3 minutes, smell the risotto when you add the wine and you will smell a raw alcohol aroma, when this disappears and it smells like nice wine again, or when all the liquid has been absorbed it's time to move to the next step. Boiling away the alcohol content is important for the final flavour of the dish.
Now add one ladle full of your stock, and stir the rice until all the liquid has been absorbed, then repeat this step until either all your stock has been used, or the rice is cooked, whichever comes first.
The cooking process takes 20 minutes approximately, and the constant stirring is very important, this releases the starch in the rice, and makes your risotto lovely and creamy.
Risotto rice is cooked when it will not absorb any more liquid, but still holds its shape, you should be able to see all the individual grains and taste a little texture but the grains should not taste hard or chalky.
When the risotto is done, turn off the heat, add in the knob of butter and the parmesan, stir and season to taste with the salt and pepper, leave to relax for a few minutes before serving.
Why not try adding cooked seafood, leeks or mushrooms, just three of the many ingredients that make your risotto into a lovely meal. The picture above shows a mushroom and smoked bacon risotto I made for dinner last night. I cooked the bacon and the mushrooms along with the onions and garlic in the first step. Enjoy!
Keep the heat on medium for even cooking
keep stirring for a creamy texture
play around with flavour combinations
use a white wine you would be happy to drink instead of cheap plonk, it will taste better in the final dish
if you brown the garlic or onions in the first step the resulting dish may taste bitter


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