In response to the mixed-nut risotto I described in today’s “Cooking Off the Cuff”, a member of the Washington Post cohort asked, “do you really add the rice after the wine [rather than] adding the rice to the oil and letting it toast/get coated before adding other liquids?”
Yep. I don’t always add and reduce the wine before stirring in the rice, but I have taken to doing this sometimes and certainly did it in this case. The received wisdom, of course, is that you add the rice to the sweated onions and coat it in butter or oil before adding any liquid. But the ever-reliable British chef/writer Simon Hopkinson reports in his book and TV series “The Good Cook” that he gets better flavor by letting the wine cook and reduce before adding the rice (he has been known to use vermouth, by the way). That way, no taste of raw wine gets into the rice, and I can see where that can be an improvement. Here’s his recipe for a simple risotto using that approach.
And for my dairy-free nut risotto, I depended in part on grated butternut squash to melt into a “creamy” sauce.
By adding the wine to the grated squash, I gave the squash a little time to start cooking before the rice went in.
As best I could tell without setting up an A-B taste test, the outcome was easily as good as the traditional method, both in flavor and in consistency. But it might be interesting to cook a few risottos using the same ingredients but differing techniques and see what does and what does not make a difference for good or for ill.
For the record, this is a photo of a main-course portion of the original squash-walnut risotto that failed its taste test, but that, to my eye, looks pretty alluring.