To make a good risotto, you have to first select the right type of rice. There are many excellent varieties, among which the most popular one is Arborio rice, which consists of large round grains that turn creamy when cooked. If you can find them, Carnaroli and Baldo are also excellent choices.
Always make sure to roast the rice, i.e., sauté the grains in some warm melted butter for a few minutes, without burning.
The next step is to add one ladleful of warmed broth at a time, just enough to cover the rice, making sure that the rice absorbs all the liquid that is being added. Keep the broth really warm during the entire preparation. Your risotto will be ready in 18 to 20 minutes, when the grains can no longer absorb any more liquid; they should remain separate and be soft on the outside and firm on the inside (al dente). Remove from the heat and let the risotto cool for about 2 minutes before serving.
I have an extra little secret: I always prepare my risotto in a pressure cooker, into which I add all the broth at one time, shut and cook at high pressure. This way, my cooking time is reduced from 20 minutes to 7 minutes!
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Originally published in the Journal de Montréal on October 27, 2007.