Risotto basics

Raw Carnaroli rice in a blue bowl

Cooking an outstanding risotto is considered to be a hard job, but it can be a child’s play if you follow some basic instructions, tips and tricks.

 

1 Choose the right pan.

You’d better use a large, heavy bottom non stick pan.

2 Choose the right rice.

Choose the right, starchy rice, as the starch gives risotto the proper creaminess.

Among the numerous varieties of rice for risotto, the best three are: Carnaroli, Arborio and Vialone Nano.

Carnaroli is a superfine short grained rice, cultivated along the Padana Plain,  the largest rice-producing area in Europe. It’s the richest kind of rice, full o soluble starch and resistant to quick cooking. It is believed to be the best rice for risotto and called the “king” of rice. If you can choose, Carnaroli rice is the go-to-choice to prepare the best risotto. For its quality the best risotto dish are always associated with Carnaroli rice.

Arborio is a starchy, large and short grained rice, that takes its name from the city of Arborio along the Padana Plan. This variety is exported in large scale, and can be bought in many supermarket shelves all over the World. It has a rich texture and can be a very good alternative to Carnaroli.

Vialone Nano is shortest and thickest italian rice, that comes from the north east of Italy. It’s indicated for rustic risotto recipes, with strong and mountain ingredients. If using this rice, keep in mind that it can holds more or less twice its weight in liquid, but still remains compact and soft, so get plenty of good stock.

 

3 Sauté ed coating

The first step to make a perfect risotto is sautéing the onion at low-medium heat in extra virgin olive oil. Once onions are golden brown, add the rice and stir until the grains are coated by oil and appear translucent.

4 Cooking with stock

Cooking a perfect risotto can take up to 20 minutes, stirring continuously. The real secret is adding hot stock little by little, one ladful at a time, giving rice to time to adsorb the stock completely. If you add cold stock, it will interrupt the cooking process.

5 Mantecatura (the creamy touch)

To give your risotto a really creamy final touch, when it’s ready, remove it from the flame, add some unsalted butter and Parmigiano Cheese if the recipe needs it. Still properly, and serve hot.



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