See more of the story

Risotto alla Milanese

Serves 8 as first course, 4 to 5 as main dish.

Note: A classic preparation from Marcella Hazan.

• 3 to 4 tbsp. unsalted butter

• 1 small to medium onion, minced very fine

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 2 heaping cups (1 lb.) Arborio rice

• 9 c. chicken stock or broth

• 3 generous pinches saffron threads

• 1/2 c. dry white wine

• 1 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions

In a deep 5- to 6-quart heavy pot, melt 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Sauté the onion with a little salt and pepper until soft and clear. Raise the heat to medium and stir in the rice. Cook about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until it looks chalky and a white dot is clearly visible in the center of each grain.

Meanwhile, bring the broth to a gentle simmer. Remove 1/2 cup and blend with the saffron; set aside.

Stir the wine into the rice, cooking until it is all absorbed. Begin adding the broth a cup at a time, simmering and stirring until each addition has been absorbed by the rice before adding the next cup. After about 7 cups, add the saffron-flavored stock and continue adding the broth in 1/2-cup portions.

Begin tasting the risotto. When ready, the rice should be close to tender, but with a little more firmness to the bite than you’d like, and have a slightly loose, creamy consistency (it will finish cooking and absorb a little more broth in the next step). Never cook it to mush. Season to taste.

Off the heat, fold in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and 1 cup of the cheese. Let the risotto rest for a few moments, then serve in heated soup dishes, passing the remaining cheese separately.

Nutrition information per each of 8 servings:

Calories 380 Fat 12 g Sodium 440 mg

Carbohydrates 50 g Saturated fat 7 g Total sugars 1 g

Protein 17 g Cholesterol 25 mg Dietary fiber 1 g

Exchanges per serving: 3 starch, ½ carb, 1 medium-fat protein, 1 fat.

Risotto With Shrimp and Radicchio

Serves 4.

Note: Fish bouillon cubes are available at seafood stores and some grocery stores. If unable to find them, use a chicken bouillon cube. Adapted from Saveur magazine.

• 1 fish bouillon cube (see Note)

• 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 small white onion, peeled and minced

• 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

• 1 1/4 lb. small raw shrimp, peeled

• 1 2/3 c. carnaroli rice

• 1 c. dry white wine (a tocai friulano from the Friuli region in northeast Italy is particularly good)

• 1 medium head radicchio, trimmed and chopped

• 1 tbsp. butter

• 1/4 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

• Salt

Directions

Bring 5 cups water to a boil in a medium pot over high heat. Reduce heat to low, add bouillon cube, and stir until dissolved.

Heat oil in a medium heavy pot over medium-low heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until soft, about 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add shrimp and cook for 1 minute.

Add rice, stir to coat well, then add wine and cook until alcohol evaporates, about 3 minutes. Add 1/3 cup warm broth at a time and cook, stirring constantly, until broth has been absorbed before adding more. After 15 minutes, add radicchio. Continue cooking until rice is tender but firm, about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat, stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano, and season to taste with salt.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 540 Fat 16 g Sodium 520 mg

Carbohydrates 68 g Saturated fat 5 g Total sugars 2 g

Protein 30 g Cholesterol 175 mg Dietary fiber 2 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 4 starch, 2 ½ lean protein, 1 ½ fat.

Pressure-Cooker Porcini Risotto

Serves 4.

Note: This recipe, adapted from slow-cooking maven Lorna Sass, proves that pressure cookers shouldn’t be associated with overcooked food. The rice turns out perfectly in the end, and you save a lot of time and effort. It’s finished off with peas for a bit of color, and the usual cheese, salt and pepper. If you use one of the other types of Italian risotto rice — baldo, violone nano or Carnaroli — cook for 5 to 6 minutes under pressure rather than 4 to 5. From Mark Bittman at the New York Times.

• 1 tbsp. olive oil or butter

• 1/2 c. finely chopped onions

• 1 1/2 c. Arborio rice (see Note)

• 1/2 c. dry white wine or dry vermouth

• 3 to 3 1/2 c. chicken or vegetable broth

• 1 oz. dried porcini, broken into bits

• 1 c. frozen peas

• 1/2 c. grated Parmesan, plus more to pass at the table

• Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

• 2 tbsp. chopped parsley, for garnish

Directions

Heat the oil over high heat in a 2 1/2-quart or larger stovetop pressure cooker, or in an electric pressure cooker using the sauté function. Add the onions, and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in the rice, taking care to coat it with the oil. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

Stir in the wine. Cook over high heat until the rice has absorbed the wine, about 30 seconds. Stir in 3 cups of the broth and the porcini, taking care to scrape up any rice that might be sticking to the bottom of the cooker.

Lock the lid in place. Over high heat, bring to high pressure. Reduce the heat just enough to maintain high pressure, and cook for 4 minutes. Turn off the heat. Quick-release the pressure by setting the cooker under cold running water. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow the steam to escape.

If using an electric cooker, cook at high pressure for 4 minutes. Manually release the pressure.

To continue, set the cooker over medium-high heat or turn on the sauté function, and stir vigorously. The risotto will look fairly soupy at this point. Boil while stirring every minute or so, until the mixture thickens and the rice is tender but still chewy, 1 to 4 minutes. Stir in the peas when the rice is almost done. (If the mixture becomes dry before the rice is done, stir in the extra 1/2 cup of broth. The finished risotto should be slightly runny; it will continue to thicken as it sits on the plate.)

Turn off the heat. Stir in the Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, garnished with a little parsley. Pass extra Parmesan at the table.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 410 Fat 8 g Sodium 920 mg

Carbohydrates 69 g Saturated fat 3 g Total sugars 4 g

Protein 14 g Cholesterol 15 mg Dietary fiber 3 g

Exchanges per serving: 3 ½ starch, 1 carb, ½ high-fat protein.

Barley Risotto With Fresh Mushrooms

Serves 8.

Note: The texture of barley, in a slow-cooker risotto, holds up beautifully. From “Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker.”

• 7 c. vegetable broth, store-bought or homemade, or water, divided

• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

• 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided

• 12 oz. fresh mushrooms, such as cremini, shiitake or oyster, trimmed and sliced, divided

• 2 shallots, finely chopped

• 1 garlic clove, minced

• Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

• 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves

• 2 c. pearl barley

• 2 oz. fresh goat cheese (about 1/2 c.), crumbled

• 1/2 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (2 oz.), plus more shaved, for serving

• Snipped fresh chives, for garnish

Directions

Preheat a 5- to 6- quart slow cooker. Heat 6 cups broth in a saucepan over low.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in large skillet over medium. Add half the mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes; transfer to a bowl.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter, and sauté remaining mushrooms until tender, 4 minutes. Return reserved mushrooms to pan. Add shallots, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and thyme; sauté for 2 minutes.

Add barley, stirring to coat well. Increase heat to medium-high, add remaining 1 cup broth, and cook, stirring to combine, until completely absorbed, about 4 minutes.

Transfer barley mixture to slow cooker. Pour in broth and stir to combine. Cover and cook on high until barley is tender, but still firm, 2 to 3 hours (or on low for 5 to 6 hours).

Before serving, stir in both goat cheese and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano until melted. Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and chives.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 300 Fat 10 g Sodium 710 mg

Carbohydrates 44 g Saturated fat 5 g Total sugars 3 g

Protein 11 g Cholesterol 15 mg Dietary fiber 8 g

Exchanges per serving: 2 ½ starch, ½ carb, ½ high-fat protein, ½ fat.