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Relax, It's Just Risotto

Once you've gotten the hang of risotto, the possibilities are unlimited. Follow Katie's guide to this dish that's not as tricky as it may seem.
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Risotto: The Basic Technique

Here are the basic steps for making risotto, and following is a recipe for Shrimp Risotto with specific measurements and steps. Read through the technique, then read through the recipe, then get cooking. Once you get this first risotto recipe under your belt, you will be able to tackle any risotto recipe that piques your fancy, or even improvise your own risotto in a galaxy not too far away. Pinkie promise.

Photography by Laura Agra

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First, What Rice to Use?

You need to use a starchy short-grain rice to make a proper risotto, and Italy produces lots of them. Arborio, from the Po Valley of Italy, is the most common, available at many supermarkets. Carnaroli, which has a slightly longer grain and even higher starch content, and Vialone Nano are two other varieties that are often available and desired. Why these varieties? The quick definition of a good risotto rice is a grain that has a generous amount of starch, which does two somewhat disparate things: Some starch keeps the grains firm so that they stay al dente, and some dissolves in the cooking process and helps bind the grains together. Different varieties have more or less of these kinds of starch, but we won’t get hung up on that.

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Step 1

Warm the broth in a saucepan, just until barely at a simmer. Warming the broth allows the rice to absorb it more evenly and quickly.

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Step 2

In a large, heavy Dutch oven or stockpot, heat some oil or melt some butter. Saute some chopped member of the onion family in the pan (a base of sauteed onions, shallots, garlic, etc. adds depth of flavor to risottos, and to most every awesome savory dish on the planet).

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