I've made risotto before, and it's not really hard--it just takes a lot of stirring. This time, I followed the directions slavishly, even to the point of using a vegetable peeler to take the skin off the tomato. It did turn out beautifully, although I'm not sure it was fantastically superior to other efforts that were more slapdash. Even though we're supposed to be "gutsy," I was rule-following.
There--1/3 cup of carrots and celery; 1/2 cup of peas; one whole tomato; one whole zucchini. All diced in rather uniform pieces instead of my usual careless chop.
Rule 1 for good risotto: Use good rice, imported from Italy. I once bought a big box of faux Arborio (just labeled "rice for risotto." Penny wise and pound foolish. It didn't absorb the liquid or become creamy.
Rule 2 for good risotto: Make sure that every grain is covered with oil before you start adding the liquid.
Rule 3 for good risotto: Add hot liquid about a half-cup at a time, stirring until the rice absorbs the liquid.
Rule 4 for good risotto. Stir like a maniac. Stir all the time. Make sure the rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot.
When rice is almost done, add butter and parmesan off-heat. Stir some more. Serve. It's good stuff. This version had zucchini, onions, carrots, celery, peas, tomato, and shredded basil. It tasted healthy and fresh. But you could add almost anything (and that's where the gutsiness would come in).
Jim: 9. I like it a lot. It's really good, but it doesn't have that element of surprise that would make me go even higher. (Clearly, Jim wants the cook to be gutsier.)
Me: 9 1/2. I love risotto, so I'm inclined to give it a high number anyway, and I thought this was perfectly made, if I do say so myself.