The Secrets To Making The Best Risotto
Risotto is one of Italy's most traditional dishes. Mastering the technique requires definitely more practice than, say pasta but here are a few tricks that I guarantee will make you a pro.
1. Choosing the rice. You can't just use ANY rice, but there are three varieties that all work really well - Carnaroli, Arborio and Vialone Nano. These are rich in starch, for an extra creamy result, and have slightly larger grains which makes them harder to overcook.
2. Choosing the pot. It shouldn't be tall and narrow, as the rice at the top will cook unevenly. It's better to use a 20cm (at least) wide, shallow pot or pan. An old pan with a thick bottom is perfect. Try to avoid non-stick pans.
3. The stock. It's important to add this ladle by ladle to the rice, and not all at once. It's also important to not add cold stock or it will lower the rice temperature. Keep a pot of stock simmering next to the rice. You can use anything to flavour your stock but make sure the flavours complement those in your risotto. When I make stock for risotto, I only use veggies that are mild - carrot, potato, celery and onion. Avoid using for example cauliflowers or kale in your stock as the flavour would be too overpowering.
4. Follow the right steps. Namely these are: tostatura, soffritto, sfumatura, cottura, mantecatura.
During tostatura, you toast the rice on its own on a high flame, without adding any oil or butter.
Next, you add extra virgin olive oil and finely minced onion, carrot, celery (this is called soffritto) and sauté for a few minutes.
Only then you start cottura, basically cooking rice by adding the stock. This is also when you add any other ingredient like veggies, seasoning and spices.
Lastly, mantecatura. When the risotto is nearly cooked, turn off the heat and cover to rest for a minute or so. Then add grated cheese, a knob of butter or a drizzle of olive oil and one last splash of stock. Fresh herbs or anything to decorate the plate is added now too.
And that's it really! If you try, please share the results with me!
The photo below is of yesterday's Vegetarian Leek & Cabbage Risotto