Would you like to know both the truth and the legend behind Risotto? Well the legend has it that in the later half of the 16th century, the Duomo de Milano builders had hired a certain man by the name of Valerius to stain the decorated glass for this cathedral. He was seen putting saffron in the pigment of his paint in order to get the right color. He was ribbed every which way from his fellow workers. He had enough of the teasing, so he snuck in some of his powdered saffron into the bowl of rice that was about to be served at one of his fellow workers wedding. Well, it kind of backfired, everyone loved the color and taste of his mistake.
Now for the truth........I don't know, but the myth made a good enough story I don't really care what the truth is. There are so many recipes that proclaim that their risotto recipe is the best and it should be cooked that way and this way, use this rice or "make sure it isn't too creamy"...on and on. Certainly I can proclaim my risotto to be the best as well, and you will find it to be among the best I assure you. But let's take a minute and look at the FACTS of risotto.
Arborio rice is a short grained rice that doesn't undergo as much milling as other types of rice, thereby giving it more natural starch content. This is important because while making risotto, you want this starch to be released, creating a very creamy texture. Long grained rice ultimately turns mushy and is not even close to being creamy, as Risotto should be.
If you don't have Arborio, any short-medium grained rice is more than adequate, and I doubt if anyone will ever be able to tell the difference. If you can, than you aren't cooking the Risotto properly and it has nothing to do with the rice.
A pound of rice soaks up about 6 cups of liquid and many chefs adhere to the same rule of thumb for cooking Risotto as they do pasta, al dente. Although I generally don't care for my pasta to be al dente, or my rice for that matter, I don't stick to that rule when it comes to risotto.
Also, you may see many professional chefs on television, in print or elsewhere judging different Risotto recipes. I have to laugh because I saw one particularly well-known chef describing another chef's Risotto as TOO creamy. You obviously could tell that this Risotto dish was moving every time he moved the plate. I took particular umbrage to this statement and although I admire all chefs on television and respect their abilities, they sometimes lose sight of the original intention and presentation of certain dishes, Risotto being one of them.
Risotto should be prepared all'onda, which is Italian for "with the waves", or simply "wavy". It should flow every time you move the dish although not have a watery "rim" around the edge of the dish. Although that certain chef may not have cared for the risotto, in his own taste, it was made perfectly and that should be what these chefs are judged on, not individual tastes. If that were the case, no-one would ever win.
Risotto remains the most important staple dish for many people in all Northern Italy, and especially in Milan. Threads of saffron are classically added to risotto but with the cost of saffron, it is not that essential unless you choose to add it.
The Yankee Chef™
..........It's Just That Simple!