Chef Essig's Featured Menu Item of the Week

The "Little Rice" with a long and interesting history

Risotto, meaning “little rice,” has a long and interesting history in Italian culture. In its simplest form, the dish is toasted short grain rice cooked with flavorful broth producing a creamy textured yet al dente rice dish. Risotto’s versatility is attractive to chefs in many different styles of restaurants. By adding various vegetables, meats, cheeses, and fruits, the basic recipe can be turned into hundreds of new and exciting entrées. The three varieties that are best suited to making risotto are Arborio, Carnaroli and Vialone Nano.


Properly Cooking risotto

To properly cook risotto, start by sweating onions in a bit of olive oil or butter. Toast the rice in the oil along with some garlic. Once the rice has toasted slightly, add a portion of flavorful stock. Continue stirring the rice until the stock is absorbed; continue this process until the rice has is cooked completely. The final product should be creamy yet slightly al dente. Creaminess is achieved partly by stirring the rice as it cooks which loosens the starch from the grains and incorporates it into the surrounding liquid. The rice is usually finished with a touch of wine, butter, and parmesan to enhance the final creaminess of the dish.


Risotto Milanese is a classic dish

In the year 1574 when the Duomo di Milano was being built in Milan, a young apprentice named Valerius was in charge of staining the glass for the cathedral. Everyone teased the young apprentice about the bright colors of the glass he produced and accused him of adding saffron to the pigments he used. Tired of the teasing, he decided to return the joke by adding some saffron to a rice dish being served at his master's wedding. The rice turned out so good that the idea spread immediately through Milan, and to this day it is known as Risotto alla Milanese.

Come on, Give it a Try!

Dining Services offers Risotto throughout the semester at Holmes Dining Hall in the Prima Pasta station. Various types of risotto are finished to order with parmesan, butter, and wine... then topped with various ingredients and finished with a complimentary sauce. Give this fresh cooked dish a try and experience a little taste of Italian history.

  • Holmes Dining Hall
  • at the Prima Pasta station
  • for Dinner on Thursday, September 9th

I hope you enjoy Risotto as much as I do!

Chef Aran Essig, CEC, CCA

Enjoy! Chef Aran Essig, CEC, CCA

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