Holiday Risotto with a Local Flavor

Greg Neville is the chef/owner of Lugano Restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah and is a regular contributor to the My Salt Lake blog.

Using local ingredients from local cheese producers can make a big difference on quality and flavor when cooking risotto. There are four fantastic creameries we have located right in Utah, and using these cheeses are a better idea than just buying packaged parmesan from the store:

Here are a few tips for cooking risotto at home this holiday season:

1. Select only imported Italian Arborio or Carnaroli rice, preferably the "super-fino" category. This will ensure uniformity of the rice and good starch content.

2. Always use a wooden kitchen spoon for stirring.

3. The ratio of broth to rice should be approximately 4:1.

4. When cooking risotto, the rice will absorb everything you add to it. To maximize flavors be sure to use a great highly-seasoned broth or stock to add to the rice, we recommend full-flavor chicken stock or beef broth. If your preference is to cook a vegetarian risotto, in a food processor place your already blanched, roasted/satueed highly-seasoned carrots (carrot puree is a great substitute for expensive saffron), asparagus or other various vegetables (leeks, fennel, peas) and puree till smooth. Then fold the puree mixture into your vegetable broth to enhance color, texture and flavor.

5. Prior to adding the rice to your cooking pan/stock pot, always include minced onion or shallots, and olive oil. By sauteeing this in advance the shallots or onions will add a greater depth of flavor. Once the rice is added to the pan of olive oil/shallot/onion mixture continue to stir for another minute before adding your broth or wine. This will create added levels of flavor.

6. Risotto is a great accompaniment to braised or roasted meats or grilled seafood such as shrimp or salmon.

Included is our Basic Risotto recipe. Happy stirring!

Read more about Greg Neville here.