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5 Tips for Perfect Risotto

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June 30, 2014 / Italian / By
Nicola

Risotto is a creamy rice-based dish which originated in Italy. It has become a firm favourite the world over, but many people find it a rather intimidating dish to make at home. It remains within the confines of restaurant walls, save for a brave few who decide to attempt it in their own homes.

This bravery will pay off, as risotto is actually easier to make than it looks. To make it well just takes a little time, so those who rush it may be disappointed by the results - hence why they think it's too difficult.

However, good things come to those who wait. If you're willing to put in the time and effort, you can make a delicious recipe. Here are my top five tips on how to turn any standard risotto recipe into something to rival restaurants' finest!

1. Get the right rice

It might sound like something very obvious, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to use the right type of rice. I've seen far too many people try to make risotto from ordinary long grain or basmati rice, but it just won't work. You need to use rice which is nice and absorbent, such as Arborio risotto rice. It's available in all supermarkets, so you have no excuse!

2. Add a splash of wine

Unless you're making a red wine risotto, you won't need a lot to make a difference to the flavour of your risotto. After you have toasted your rice and before adding stock, throw in a splash of white wine - no more than a cup of it. The alcohol will burn off quickly, leaving your rice with a very slight sweet flavour. This isn't something which you'll instantly notice when the risotto is ready to eat, but it does add an extra depth of flavour. You'd definitely notice it if it was missing.

3. Pour in the stock slowly

Whatever you do, don't be tempted to pour in the stock all at once! For one, the rice won't cook for long enough, and for another it won't absorb the stock properly. Add the stock little by little, much in the same way that you add milk very slowly when making a roux. Good risottos cannot be rushed; by adding the stock nice and slowly, you'll end up with a lovely, creamy texture.

4. Stir constantly

While adding the stock and allowing the risotto to cook, be sure to stir it constantly. Many recipes will only tell you to stir occasionally (at most), but one of my biggest pieces of advice is to stir all the time. Stirring will cause the grains of risotto rice to knock together, releasing a creaminess which will give the sauce an amazingly smooth texture. Don't stir it, and they won't knock against one another, so you'll end up with a more watery sauce than a creamy one. A risotto is a labour of love, but you will end up falling head over heels!

5. Nothing better than a bit of butter

After your risotto rice has been toasted, doused in alcohol, cooked slowly in stock and stirred continuously, it's almost ready to eat. Right at the very last minute, before it's ready to be served, stir in a small knob of butter. This will give your already creamy sauce an even richer, deeper flavour.

If you're following a recipe, then you're already likely to end up with a really nice risotto dish. These are just some of my suggestions on how to enhance a recipe and turn it into something really magnificent. Risottos are not that difficult to make, but in order to make them fantastic, they do require a bit of extra care and attention. Then again, isn't that the case for all the best food?


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