Risotto is a fine dining staple that, for too long, has been confined to restaurants. The creamy, comforting dish is often thought to be inaccessibly difficult for home cooks. But the truth is that, with the right technique, risotto is easy enough for any cook to make on a weeknight. It comes together with shockingly little effort in a pan, and a pressure cooker makes it even easier.
Once you've realized just how simple it is to make amazing risotto, you're going to want to put it into your standard rotation. You'll never get bored, either, because risotto is a perfect canvas for all sorts of flavors. You'll find we have plenty of variations to keep you satisfied, from saffron-scented risotto alla milanese to vegan miso risotto and a make-ahead baked risotto casserole.
And if you've got leftovers, there are few dishes as satisfying as risotto al salto—that is, a crispy fried risotto pancake.
Despite its reputation for being a fussy, laborious dish, risotto is actually easy to make at home. Forget everything you've heard about adding the liquid slowly and stirring constantly—as long as you use a shallow pan you can add all the liquid at once and make perfect risotto with virtually no stirring at all.
Risotto alla milanese starts simply—just rinse and toast the rice, then cook with wine and stock before finishing with butter and Parmigiano Reggiano. What really makes the dish special is the addition of a couple of pinches of fragrant, vibrantly colored saffron. Saffron is an expensive spice, but you just need a small amount so it ends up only costing about a dollar per serving.
While we often finish risotto with dairy to make it extra creamy, vegetable purees also do the job wonderfully. This vegan risotto is thickened with a flavorful spinach-and-herb puree, which has the added benefit of giving the dish a beautiful green color. To make the risotto a more complete meal, we serve it with sautéed mushrooms.
This risotto gets its color from radicchio—which we cook right in with the rice—and a cup of red wine. The radicchio adds a slightly bitter flavor, which we complement with funky blue cheese. Risotto can be a one-note dish textural, so we top it with crunchy crushed walnuts.
You won't be able to make this recipe for quite a while, but it's worth keeping in your back pocket until ramp season. We maximize the vegetable's flavor by incorporating it three ways—we replace the typical aromatics with ramp whites, mix in a puree made with the ramp greens, and top with whole sautéed ramps.
By this point I hope you're convinced that cooking risotto in a pan is easier than you might have thought, but if you want an even easier method then you need to break out the pressure cooker. The pressure cooker makes perfect risotto—like this one flavored with fresh and dried mushrooms—almost foolproof.
This pressure cooker risotto is packed with fall flavors: butternut squash, sage, brown butter, apple, and maple syrup. The recipe can't be made entirely in the pressure cooker—you need to roast the squash in the oven to properly bring out its sweetness—but it still comes together in about an hour.
This risotto gets corn flavor packed into it three ways. First, the kernels are cut off corn cobs and sautéed, and half of those get reserved and the other half get blitzed into a creamy corn purée. Then, the reserved corn cobs are placed in the pressure cooker along with the rice to wring out all their corn flavor. To finish, we remove the cobs and stir in the sautéed kernels and the purée for the ultimate corn risotto. Take it from me, you'll want to make more than you think you'll need—it's even better the next day fried up into a pancake.
Our last two recipes used a little miso paste as a flavor enhancer, but here it's the star of the dish. High in glutamates, miso gives this vegan risotto tons of savoriness. You can use whatever miso you'd like, but we prefer the more subtle flavor of light yellow or white. Replacing the traditional white wine with dry sake (plus a squeeze of lemon juice for acidity) keeps the Japanese theme going.
You don't need a pressure cooker to make mushroom risotto—the recipe can be easily adapted for a pan. We handle the mushrooms the same way, using a combination of fresh mixed mushrooms and dried porcinis or morels. Rehydrating the dried mushrooms in the stock used to cook the rice infuses the entire dish with mushroom flavor.
Here we pair seared scallops with a leek risotto and brown butter sauce. Cook the rice first—the risotto can be held while the scallops sear and thinned out just before serving. We like the firmer texture of Carnaroli rice, but use whatever long grain rice you'd like.
As a general rule, risotto needs to be eaten immediately after cooking for the best texture. We have some tricks to let you make it ahead of time, but another option is to bake it into what is essentially an arancini casserole. The result is thicker than a traditional risotto, but no less delicious.
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