Tips for Making Risotto

Article by: Allrecipes  |  Picture by: ReadersDigest
Tips for Making Risotto
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Once you've made your first risotto there's no going back. While the regular stirring and attention are part and parcel of a classic risotto the process is much more straightforward than it seems and the result is fabulous.

1
Rice
Traditionally Arborio rice is used for risotto because it's high in starch and able to absorb a lot of liquid without becoming mushy. But you can use any rice , even other grains like barley, to cook risotto-style.
2
Stock
You will need more liquid when cooking risotto than when cooking plain rice as more liquid evaporates during the constant uncovered stirring of the rice - start with a 3:1 ratio of liquid to rice.

Stock is the best liquid to use as it adds important flavour. Your recipe will usually specify a type of stock but you can use any stock as along as it complements the flavour of your other ingredients.
What Kind of Stock?
Stock cubes are fine; low salt ones are better because of the amount of liquid stock used. Start by diluting the stock a little more than usual (1 1/4 cups - 1 stock cube) and get a sense of how that that tastes. Dilute shop-bought liquid stock a little as well, in case the flavour is too overpowering.
3
Use Two Pots
Have the stock well heated in a saucepan before you start cooking the risotto in a larger, second saucepan. Wash the rice in running water and leave it draining in a colander or strainer.

Have all your ingredients ready and precooked as required; grate the parmesan cheese. You can simmer chopped vegetables in the stock. This both partly cooks them if required and adds flavour to both the veggies and the stock.
4
Build the Flavour
Start by cooking the onions and/or garlic in oil. Once they've softened add the rice and stir till the grains are all coated. You can add a little more oil if needed.Once the rice is translucent, add a good splash or white wine or the juice of half a good-sized lemon.
5
Add the Stock
Add the stock about a cup at a time and only add more stock when it is absorbed into the risotto - not dry, just absorbed. Keep the heat just high enough to barely simmer the stock and risotto. You must pay attention, and stir it more than occasionally but you don't have to stare at it intently all the time.
6
Add the Risotto Ingredients
Your recipe will probably specify when to add the ingredients depending on how much cooking they will require. A good time to start adding ingredients is after you've added a couple of cups of stock so the flavours will meld.
Add Ingredients at Different Times
You can also choose to add some of the same ingredient earlier in the cooking and some later, to have a mix of more and less cooked ingredients. This works well with e.g. mushrooms. Adding a couple of tablespoons of Parmesan cheese about 3/4 of the way through cooking will also enhance the flavour.
7
Is it Done Yet?
The risotto is done when it's just al dente – still firm but not at all crunchy. It should be soft rather than a solid scoopful of rice when you serve it and it is ok to still have a little liquid left. When you're happy with the taste of your rice add a couple of teaspoons of butter, stir it in and leave it sit for a few minutes before serving.
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Serve with parmesan cheese, black pepper and some fresh rocket or basil to sprinkle over the top.
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