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A perfect dish to experiment with

In honour of spring, and the grand opening of The Culinary Studio, we bring you this recipe, one of our favourites that we like to teach people how to properly make.   In The Culinary Studio (740 Belmont Ave. W., the former Vincenzo’s location) we’ve got lots of fantastic pots, pans and gas stoves waiting for you to try a hands-on cooking class. We feel this is the best way to learn a dish, to actually feel, smell, listen and watch what is happening in the pot. Risotto is just one of those types of recipes, where it is not an exact science, but rather watching and feeling (and of course tasting!) for it to be done correctly.
Here are a few facts about risotto. Risotto hails from northern Italy. Risotto is a complete dish and a cooking method of any grain, and not a type of rice. The rice used to make risotto is called Arborio, which is a short grain, high starch rice. By adding liquid – usually a meat broth – in stages (as opposed to all at once) the rice cooks slowly, bringing out its starch. This is why a risotto appears to be creamy.  No traditional risotto ever involves the addition of cream, but rather butter at the end to give it shine, and cheese to give it salty flavour.

If you try the recipe below, we’d love to hear your feedback. If it is not out of this world, we’d love to make it with you someday!

Spring Vegetable Risotto with Lemon
Serves 4

4 cups (approximately) hot water or vegetable stock or chicken stock
2 tbsp canola oil
1 small onion, finely diced
3/4 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup grated romano cheese
Juice of one lemon
1/2 bunch asparagus, cut into one-inch pieces, blanched briefly in boiling water
Salt and pepper to taste

This is the basic recipe for Risotto Milanese; just about anything can be added to it: mushrooms, beets, squash, sausage, herbs, asparagus, etc.

In a larger saucepot or Dutch oven, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat;

Add the onion and sauté until soft;

Add the Arborio rice and cook one minute; turn heat to medium;

Add the wine, stirring constantly until wine has almost been incorporated;

Add 1 ladle (approx. 3/4 of a cup) of water or stock and stir constantly until it is absorbed. Continue to add the water or stock, ladle by ladle, stirring constantly between additions until each amount is absorbed;

Turn heat to low; after all stock has been added, rice should be al dente and not too dry. This should take around 20 minutes. Add extra stock if there is no residual liquid in the pot;

Finish risotto by adding the butter and cheese and asparagus tips, stirring constantly;

Season to taste;

Serve hot, immediately! Risotto should not be so thick that you can stand a spoon in it: it should have some residual liquid.

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