Risotto is one of my favorite dishes to make because, like polenta, it can be made so many different ways depending what you put into it. Basically, it’s a rice dish, but made with a special starchy rice that creates a creaminess when cooked the proper way.
Today I wanted to make a risotto using a favorite ingredient of mine called paprika cream. I learned about it from a Hungarian friend and I’m addicted to it. And yes, it is a short cut, but it’s a fabulous one. This is a high-quality product that is extremely versatile. It’s available in a jar made by Univer, but I’ve also used a brand that comes in a tube.
Sure, you can roast your own red Hungarian peppers, peel them, and purée them, but why not use this pre-made product? Especially because you can use a teaspoon, a tablespoon, or much more, depending on what you’re making.
Today I’m making risotto with the paprika creme which will provide the flavor. The flavor is bigger and better by using this product than simply using a sweet or spicy Hungarian ground paprika.
You can serve grilled shrimp or scallops with it or just about any favorite protein. My husband prefers a meat-heavy meal, so for him the risotto will be more like a side dish, along with pork tenderloin.
Don’t let anyone convince you that it’s difficult. I’ve even taught children how to make risotto! There is a little elbow grease involved, but it’s well worth it.
The only “rule” about preparing risotto is to have all of your ingredients ready by the stove because you cannot leave the kitchen while making risotto, and you don’t want to get distracted. The whole process takes up to 40 minutes.
Here’s what I did:
2 tablespoons olive oil, or fat of choice
2 shallots, diced
1 cup of arborio rice
1/3 cup white wine
Approximately 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 heaping tablespoons of paprika creme, or to taste
Grated Parmesan, optional
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. I actually used a little fat from the pan in which I roasted the pork tenderloins. Don’t ever throw that fat away!!!
When the oil is hot, add the shallots and sauté for a few minutes. A little caramelization is good. Then stir in the rice, and sauté the rice, stirring occasionally, for about a minute. All of the rice grains should be shiny.
Then pour in the wine. If the pan is at the right temperature, the wine should sizzle a little. If it just sits there, you need to turn up the heat. Stir the rice with the wine until the wine is almost all evaporated.
Then begin adding chicken broth, about 1/4 – 1/3 cups at a time, stir, and continue doing this. When the liquid is almost completely incorporated, the rice should almost be sticking to the pan, but it won’t, cause you’re there at the stove adding a little more liquid.
Before you’ve used all of the broth, stir in the paprika cream until it’s well incorporated.
You’ll know when your risotto is about done because it will begin to stop absorbing the liquid, and should have a nice creamy consistency. If the rice is still absorbing the broth, it’s okay to add a little more broth or even water as necessary, even if you’ve already used the 2 1/2 cups of broth. The rice has to cook (see note).
You can stir in the Parmesan, but I prefer to sprinkle it on top of the risotto.
If you want a creamier risotto, you can substitute some of the broth with heavy cream.
note: According to the Italians, the rice grains in risotto are cooked until they are al dente – which means there is just a little bit of bite to them. Personally, I don’t mind my risotto slightly beyond that point. Hopefully my Italian ancestors aren’t rolling over in their graves because of my preference!
Now, think about all of the lovely variations of risotto you can make throughout the year…
Spring: lemon risotto with spicy grilled shrimp, or risotto with asparagus
Summer: risotto with corn and chipotle, or tomato risotto with spicy scallops and fresh basil
Fall: pumpkin risotto with feta cheese, or Brussels sprouts risotto topped with grilled sausages
Winter: cheddar risotto topped with braised short ribs, or wild mushroom risotto served with pork loin