Does Chef Ramsey (Hell’s Kitchen) know something about risotto? You know he does. It’s the prospective chefs that can’t figure it out! So, where does risotto come from?
Classical Risotto is a simple rice dish that usually is served as either an appetizer or a main course. It has four basic ingredients: sautéed vegetables, known as “soffritto”; broth; flavoring; and Italian rice. It can be served using any of a wide array of ingredients, including, but not limited to, specialty herbs, seasonal fish and various meats. Today’s Risotto has these basic ingredients: onions sautéed with Arborio rice, white wine, chicken stock, heavy cream, salt and pepper (to taste) and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
The story of risotto began in the 14th century B.C., when the Arabs brought rice to Sicily and Spain during their rule. Italy was the ideal place to grow short-grain rice due to the humid weather and abundant flat land. As a result, rice became a main part of Italian food culture.
Valerius, a young apprentice, is believed to be the creator of risotto. In 1574, he was put in charge of making the stained-glass window that was to adorn the Cathedral Duomo Di Milano. While he worked, many of the townspeople made fun of him, giving credit to the herb saffron for the beautiful colors showcased in his artwork. As a result, Valerius became angry and devised a plan of retaliation. During his master’s wedding, he added an excessive amount of saffron to the rice being served as the main dish. He hoped his action would ruin the festivities, but instead the rice received great reviews, launching risotto into culinary fame.
One of Italy’s most famous dishes is Risotto alla Milanese; Saffron (Chef’s Gold) is added.