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How to prepare a perfect risotto

How to prepare a perfect risotto

Vegetable or meat broth? Butter or extra virgin olive oil? Is it better to stir or avoid stirring? Which variety of rice to use?

Risotto is one of the staples of Italian cuisine, the cross and delight of all lovers of the culinary arts. The reason for this is very simple: on the one hand it is absolutely delicious, and on the other hand it is difficult to make. Risotto is one of those dishes that sometimes frighten, one of those recipes where it is the small details that make the difference. 

Overcooked, too liquid, broken grains of rice cooked for too long: there are many drawbacks that can ruin the success of this delicacy

So how do you prepare a good risotto?

1. Choose the right pot

Rule no. 1: risotto must cook evenly. Forget tall, narrow pots and use wider pots with medium-height sides that can hold the rice and cooking liquid up to a level of no more than 3/4 fingers.

2. Choose the right rice

Pay close attention to the raw materials! So choose rice that is suitable for this type of cooking. The varieties 'allowed' by the strict rules of Italian cuisine are Carnaroli, Vialone nano and Arborio. These varieties have the right amount of starch, good cooking properties and a natural ability to absorb seasonings and flavours. For this reason, they make it possible to obtain a creamy risotto with intact grains. We recommend Carnise rice, our favourite, an excellent risotto rice grown in Sardinia.



3. Butter or oil?

Another big doubt. Which fat to use for risotto? The basic rule is butter, butter and more butter. We are a little less fundamentalist: choose the fat you prefer for the sauté, but watch out when stirring: at this stage, cold butter added when the heat is off will allow you to obtain the delicious cream that everyone loves in this dish!

4. Onion or shallot?

Choose onion for a risotto with a stronger flavour, shallot for a more delicate taste, perhaps for a seafood risotto. In either case, we always recommend that you chop the onion or shallot very finely: the pieces of onion or shallot should never be larger than a grain of rice in order to cook properly and not be intrusive. Also, always remember to fry them on a low heat and never let them brown. The basic sauté should be light in colour.

5. Roasting

Never skip this stage of preparation! Roasting is used to maintain the firmness of the grain of rice until the end of cooking. It simply involves roasting the rice in the stir-fry over a medium heat for a few minutes until it is almost transparent. Be careful to stir the rice continuously while roasting so that it does not burn or stick to the pan!


6.  The broth

Always choose a quality broth, whether meat, fish or vegetable, depending on your tastes and the seasoning you choose. Avoid using stock cubes, which often contain unhealthy ingredients: it is better to prepare a good homemade broth. When preparing risotto, gradually add small amounts of boiling broth (if cold, the liquid may block the cooking process) and never allow the rice to remain uncovered by the liquid, to allow it to cook evenly. Do not add too much stock all at once, otherwise there may not be enough time to absorb it once the cooking is complete.

7. To stir or not to stir?

Risotto should be stirred very few times during cooking: the more the grains are hit by the ladle, the more likely they are to disintegrate. Also, if you stir the risotto too much, there is a risk that the starch will disperse, making the dish sticky. Be gentle!

8. Stirring the risotto

As with the toasting, this is a crucial step in the preparation: a few minutes after turning off the heat, a fat and/or cheese is added. The ideal, as we were saying, is to add very cold butter cut into cubes: the temperature difference between the cold butter and the hot rice will create a fantastic velvety cream. Green light also to the addition of abundant Parmigiano, Pecorino or Caprino matured cheeses. After adding the butter and cheese, cover with a lid and leave to stand for 1-2 minutes. Then remove the lid and start stirring or moving the pot with energetic movements, creating what in culinary jargon is called a "wave". If the risotto is too dry to create this wave, add a very small amount of stock.

9. Serve the rice as soon as it is ready!

Risotto should be served immediately after stirring, so that it doesn't lose its creaminess that makes this dish so special. And if you don't eat it all? Use it to create a timbale or tasty supplì!

10. Serve the rice on a cold plate

After cooking, rice retains its heat for a long time. This not only prolongs the cooking time of the grains beyond what is necessary, but can also make it difficult to eat. Always use a cold plate to serve it on!

These were our tips for the perfect risotto.

By the way, have you already read our recipe for Risotto with Sardinian Saffron?