This easy risotto is made with Parmesan, ham or pancetta and without wine. The recipe also calls for cured egg yolks but you can add more Parmesan if you don't have them.
Parmesan cheese is the star of this risotto but it could also be called risotto carbonara because the taste reminds a lot of the classic Italian dish. This time, for the meat, I used ham because that's what I had in my fridge but you can also use pancetta or bacon. The chicken stock, the milk and lots of freshly grated black pepper complete the flavor making this an easy recipe you can enjoy with your whole family. This dish was also a great opportunity to try the salt cured egg yolks I made a while ago. They're a nice addition to the risotto making it more eligible to be named “Carbonara” but don't sweat if you don't have them, just add some more Parmesan.
What is the best rice for risotto?
For the rice you should choose a short-grain rice variety suitable for risotto such as Arborio, Carnaroli, Carolina, Nano, or Sant Andrea.
Long-grain rice like Jasmin or Basmati will not give you a creamy risotto texture and the end result will probably be mushy and will seem overcooked.
Sticky rice, parboiled rice and wild rice are also not suitable for risotto recipes!
The basic risotto recipe
All risottos are based on a simple, basic recipe which you can customize according to your taste and create a dish (or many different dishes) you can enjoy often. So, for 3-4 persons, you'll need:
- 1 cup rice
- 2 tablespoons fat
- About 4 cups of liquid, or a little more (depending on the type of rice, the size of the pan and the intensity of the heat).
For the liquids, chicken stock is my favorite thing but you can also use vegetable stock, or a mixture of stock and milk or cream.
For the fat you can use butter or olive oil. To this basic recipe you can add grated cheese, spices and herbs, sauteed mushrooms, seafood, cooked chicken, or what else you prefer.
How to make risotto more creamy
Keep in mind that you must exploit 3 factors to make a risotto creamy. The rice, the technique, and the fat.
- The right type of rice is crucial if you want to achieve a good risotto and those types of rice are mentioned in a previous paragraph. If you're unsure about it, just make sure that the packaging says rice for risotto.
- The technique. The technique is easy, but it requires you spend some time in front of your stove, babysitting your food and adding the stock half a cup at a time, waiting until almost all of the liquid is absorbed before the next addition. Stirring the rice from time to time prevents it from sticking to the bottom of the pan but also helps the rice to release its starch something that will make th e risotto more creamy.
- The last factor of creaminess is the fat. When we say fat we mean butter, heavy cream (or half and half) and cheese. Fat also adds calories, so don't overdo it.
Can you make risotto without wine?
Yes, of course! Although wine can give flavor and depth to your risotto, it is not necessary. If you have a recipe that calls for wine and you want to use it, just replace it with the same amount of another liquid like stock. If the alcohol is the only reason you don't want it, keep in mind that it gets evaporated during the cooking.
What goes with Parmesan risotto?
Do you have leftover risotto? Make some Italian fried rice balls (risotto arancini).
Parmesan risotto recipe with ham
- 1 cup rice for risotto (such as Arborio, Carnaroli, Carolina)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
- ½ onion (chopped)
- ½ cup ham (or pancetta or bacon cut in small cubes)
- 3 cups chicken stock (very warm (you may need some more))
- 1 cup milk (warm)
- ¾ cups (50 grams) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- salt and freshly grated black pepper to taste
- chopped chives or parsley for serving
- 1 salt cured egg yolk (grated (optional))
- Bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat and keep warm.
- Transfer the butter and the onion to a large deep saucepan and cook on medium to high heat until the onion is translucent. Add the rice and stir for 1-2 minutes.
- Add ½ cup of stock, stir, and let it cook until all the liquids are nearly absorbed. Stir from time to time with a wooden spatula. Repeat this procedure until you have used 3 cups of stock (slowly adding the stock and stirring with a spatula helps the rice to release the starch, something that results in a creamy risotto).
- Add the milk, the parmesan cheese, the black pepper and half the grated egg yolk. Let it cook until almost all of the liquids are absorbed and turn off heat. Taste and adjust the salt and the black pepper. If the rice needs more cooking, add another ½ cup of chicken stock or milk and cook it some more.
- Serve immediately and sprinkle over each plate some more grated egg yolk or Parmesan cheese and chives/parsley. Eat!
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