Ticino river, grandparents and risotto

by maddalenaerre

Sesto Calende, Ticino riverside, Italy

Instagram picture taken by me, March 2012

One of the most appreciated Italian dishes is definitely risotto.  When me and my bf were living in London, our flatmates used to ask us to prepare it all the time. It’s one of my favourite things to cook, cause it takes time, it’s cosy and slowly. It makes me feel like home, wherever I am.

It doesn’t matter how hard I try, my grandma’s risotto is still unbeatable. Actually, the king of risotto was my grandpa – even in his last years, when he wasn’t even able to stand on his feet, he wanted to cook his risotto for some special occasions. My grandma used to put a chair for him in front of the stove and he sat down, cooking his great risotto. Sometimes I was standing at his side, helping or just looking and listening to him.

My grandpa’s name was Felice, which means literally “happy” in English – and that was how he looked like in those moments – happy. I supposed that is also because of this that risotto is still the real comfort food for me.

One of the major mistakes when cooking risotto is to put the rice directly in the boling water. You don’t have to do this, never. You need to put raw rice in a pan with some drops of olive oyl and half a glass of white wine – or red wine, that’s up to you. After having done this, you must add little by little cups of hot homemade broth, until the rice becomes soft and creamy. You can do the broth both with vegetables and beef or just with the veggie part, without the meat. It tastes good anyway.

At the very end, when you have already turned off the fire, add a piece of butter and a lot of grated parmesan cheese. Leave everything there for 5/8 minutes. Et voilà, your risotto is ready to be served.

Here, in the North of Italy and especially in Milan area, we do risotto very often and in every possible way. My favourite is saffron risotto, but we prepare it with alot of other ingredients: mushrooms, zucchini, Treviso red chicory, gorgonzola cheese, pumpkin – even tangerine and strawberries.

The magic of risotto is that it doesn’t matter which ingredients you use – it always tastes good! Or most of the time, at least.