Risotto, risotto, risotto. There are very few words that roll off the tongue quite as nicely or that have the same desired effect on the stomach *insert tummy growl here*. When done right, risotto is decadent yet light, creamy yet made with al dente rice, and has unique flavour combinations without being overly complicated. However, risotto often gets a bad rep for being too difficult to cook. For good reason though! It requires quite a bit of attention, but the rest can be learnt.
Our head chef, Roberto, has come up with an amazing mushroom risotto recipe; a staple in every Italian kitchen. Creamy, earthy and rich, it’s the perfect meal to curl up with or enjoy with fine wine and friends. We know you’ll love it so much you may want to impress a friend or two by recreating it for a dinner party. If so, then read on for ten helpful tips and tricks passed from our kitchen to yours.
- Butter is better. I know, I know, when you think of Italian food, olive oil comes to mind. In the case of risotto, however, the flavour is too strong. Butter is lighter.
- Use a high-starch rice such as arborio rice. It gives risotto its characteristically creamy texture.
- Make sure your pot size is just right. Choose a pot that fits perfectly over your burner because if it’s too big their will be cold spots. Also, if it’s too wide, the rice will cook in a thin layer and won’t be able to generate starch.
- Tostatura. Toast the onions and rice first without browning them. If they brown, it will alter the desired taste and texture of the finished dish.
- Simmering Stock. If you use stock straight out of the fridge it will cool down the pan and interrupt the cooking process. Instead, make sure to bring the stock to a rolling simmer first in a small pan.
- Add stock slowly. Wait until the rice absorbs all of the stock before adding more. Add it one ladleful at a time, otherwise, you’re just boiling rice.
- Cook with booze. Risotto wouldn’t be risotto without it. Traditional recipes call for wine but don’t be afraid to mix it up with a brandy.
- Stir often, but not constantly. If you stir the rice constantly you’ll add air into the risotto, cooling it down and making it gluey. But if you don’t stir enough, the rice will stick to the bottom and burn.
- Al dente. Just like cooking pasta, the rice should still have bite to it. You want to it be al dente, not overly mushy.
- Add in cheese afterwards. Fat will break under heat. Remove the rice from heat once finished, and fold in some fresh cream and parmesan to give the risotto a light, silky texture.