- Use a large saucepan and do not cover. A wide pot is best, to contain the rice in as thin a layer as possible, allowing for even absorption of the stock.
- Risotto should be made at the last minute and served immediately. It takes about 20 minutes to cook, so plan ahead.
- The key to great risotto is the rice itself. Use medium-grain. The first choice is Italian “superfine,” such as arborio, roma, balso or carnaroli. A medium grain releases starch as it cooks, creating a creamy, rich texture. You can use other grains, such as barley, for an interesting variation, but choose ones that will retain their texture. Just remember that if you’re making risotto without rice, the creaminess will need to come from adding butter or cheese.
- Use a mild-flavoured stock so as not to overwhelm the subtle flavour of risotto. Add the simmering stock slowly and stir constantly. So that the grains do not dry out, burn or stick, use a wooden spoon with a flat edge to scrape the entire bottom of the pan when stirring. Stirring constantly will create an evenly cooked risotto.
- Aim for a creamy consistency with an al dente bite. The rice absorbs the stock and slowly cooks from the outside in. Just before the nucleus of the grain is cooked, the rice is done and must be removed from the heat. The grain should have just a suggestion of resistance when you bite into it.
- If the risotto is too thick, just before serving you can adjust by adding a little more stock. risotto should not be stodgy.
- If adding purées for flavouring or other quick-cooking flavouring ingredients, add them near the end so you don’t lose their texture, colour or flavour, and so you don’t adversely affect the texture of the risotto.
- Stir the risotto vigorously at the end of cooking. Stirring in lots of butter and cheese makes it the ultimate comfort food. That’s how they do it in the authentic northern Italian manner.
- Let the dish stand for a few moments before serving.
- Don’t throw away any leftovers in the pot. Use them to make risotto cakes.
Risotto is a rice dish cooked in the traditional northern Italian way. For best results, follow these guidelines: