For all that Risotto alla Milanese is a classic, I don’t often make it. Indeed, time was when I’d buy a packet of Knorr’s ready-made risotto (in which the rice wasn’t even proper carnaroli or arborio rice, now that I think of it), add the requisite amount of water, cook it for the requisite amount of time, and think it tasted pretty good. I hate to think what else those packets contained in those days besides the rice but, just now, when I took the trouble to google around Knorr’s rice packets, I found to my very welcome surprise … that Knorr has gone ‘proper’, eschewing such nasties as monosodium glutammate and preservatives! In Italy at least. Read below:
Knorr follows conscious consumers
Knorr follows the trend of consumers. I was very pleased to see the news of Knorr: risotto, creamed soups and traditonal soups of fast cooking without MSG , without preservatives and with natural ingredients. I’m very careful selecting products based on their ingredients and used to passed fastly through the hall having these products because in almost all the envelopes I could read the famous monosodium glutamate and other codes that seemed to be chemical stuff. But two months ago I went by chance to another supermarket and next to me while I was queing to pay there was a mini shelf having several types of instant cooking envelopes and I could not resist taking a bag of rice and a soup and read all front and back but wondering where the trick was. Then I will take them and will test, I was intrigued to see if it’s so hard to create a product with no preservatives and no MSG keeping an excellent taste. A product that gives a hand to us housewives and working mothers that sometimes need to do something fast but healthy because we could not do the shopping, because what we cooked with love has burnt out or just a deserved lazy and the response arrived: Knorrs has done it! Holy Knorr that take care of your consumers or simply follows the trend to not be quicked out of the market keeping adequate prices and you’re starting to expand the menu. I confess that I take one or two envelopes and keep them in the pantry, relieved that they do not have “trash” and the whole family can eat. But surfing the net I noticed that this information regards Italy, but what is Knorr doing in other countries? Dont’ they find consumers or they have them even if do not change the ingredients? Raise your voice and ask uniformity! Good quality products and good ingredients for everyone!
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A proper home-made risotto does require a lot more time than that of a packet of Knorr’s. You will need to make beef stock for starters. You can omit, but why would you?, some bone marrow. You will need good quality rice (my preference is for Carnaroli) and good quality saffron. Good quality parmesan and good quality butter. The famed Italian chef Gualtiero Marchesi goes so far as to add a leaf of gold to his risotto as the ultimate garnish!
Is it worth the effort? If you can be bothered to make the stock (and I know that outside of Italy it is fairly easy to buy ready-made stock), the answer is a resounding yes.
The stock when it was still in the making. When the stock is finished and ready, put it on to simmer when you begin to cook your risotto. Any liquid or stock that you add to any risotto must always be hot/simmering so as not to bring the temperature of the risotto down. It’s common sense really …
Start by chopping an onion and cooking it over a gentle heat in a mixture of both olive oil and butter:
When the onion has gone all soft and yellowy without burning, switch off the heat and set aside. There is a reason for this. The onion needs to cook on a gentle heat whereas the rice needs to be ‘toasted’ first on a high heat — so it’s better to cook them separately and bring them together at a later stage. Just so you know, it can it can take a good 10 minutes to bring the onions to this stage and I sometimes even add a little bit of water to help the process along.
Toast the rice over a high heat, making sure the rice gets coated in the oil and stirring at an elegant and dignified pace for about five minutes or until the rice goes transluscent. You can toss the pan if you so wish, in lieu of stirring.
Add the first ladleful of simmering stock (I apologise for this colourful intrusion of ink — I’ve no idea where that came from!) Stir until it has been absorbed and then add another ladleful.Now you can add the previously cooked onions. Mix well and carry on stirring.
Please be advised that a risotto alla milanese is not supposed to be a ‘runny’ kind of risotto but, instead, quite firm. And any risotto should always be served on a normal, ‘flat’ plate — not in a bowl or soup plate! Indeed, if you have the patience, you could slap the bottom of the plate you have laid your risotto on, in order to make it fill out the plate as one big round.