If you buy rice in Spain, the packages don’t have directions on them because they assume you know how to make it. One of the many ways I am a bad Spaniard is that I do not. Even when I have instructions, I manage to ruin rice, always leaving a layer of burnt stuff at the bottom of the pan, so I don’t even bother.
Enter risotto. Apparently, people don’t like to make it ’cause it’s time-consuming, but I don’t see that. I rinse the grains until the water is basically clear, a trick I learned from Ming Tsai, and toast them a little with some oil (and garlic if I’m going that way). Then I add water to cover plus a bit more for good measure, crank the heat up until I get a boil, cover and put it on low. At this point, I usually pick up my kitchen book (I have reading material handy at several key spots in my apartment) or turn up a podcast while I’m cleaning up. A couple minutes later, I take the lid off, stir the rice around a bit, add more water and cover. I repeat this last step again after a short while and then remove the lid to burn off any excess liquid.
I’ve been experimenting with risotto all winter and the above process is the one that works best for me. Once it’s done, you can add whatever you want (mushrooms, cheese, etc.) but lately, I’ve been letting the rice cool down in a bowl with some fresh lemon juice squeezed over it. While that sets, I prep my vegetables. Since artichokes have been plentiful and lovely at my local market, I’ve been slicing the hearts up and pan frying them till crisp. A little kosher salt and some fresh dill and I’m good to go.
Mark Bittman offers another take on non-Spanish rice with his “humble paella” recipe.