How to make risotto? Risotto base recipe

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How to make risotto? Risotto base recipe

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Risotto ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups (500 g) risotto rice (Arborio, Vialone Nano, Roma etc.)
  • 6 cups (1.5 l) good quality chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 5 fl oz (150 ml) dry white wine
  • 4/5 stick (100 g) butter
  • 2 1/2 oz (75 g) grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper

There are many different types of risotto recipes based on the other ingredients: vegetables, sausage, liver, mushroom etc. But as an answer to the question “How to make risotto?”, there is one risotto base recipe that they all share. You can use these basic rules to any type of risotto, adding the ingredients of your choice at the end. If it’s your first time making risotto, read this article first: Secrets of making perfect risotto.

How to make risotto – risotto base recipe

  1. In a saucepan heat up chicken or vegetable stock. It must be almost boiling by the time you start cooking the rice. With chicken stock your risotto will have a richer taste, by using vegetable stock you can turn it into a fully vegetarian or even vegan food – leaving out butter and parmesan cheese for the latter.
  2. Risotto secrets: how to cook risotto

    On the left: chicken stock boiling, on the right: risotto in the making

  3. While your stock is heating, finely chop onions and garlic. Melt half of the butter with the oil in a large saucepan, then add the onion. Simmer for a few minutes. The onion shouldn’t be browned, only get a nice translucent color. Add garlic and simmer for another half a minute.
  4. How to make risotto: sautée the onions

    Sautée the onions

  5. Add the rice. Stir it thoroughly, the grains should be covered with the oil/butter/onion mix. Sauté the rice on medium heat for 2-3 minutes, the grains should have a transparent edge while still white in the middle.
  6. How to make risotto: sauté the rice

    Sauté the rice

  7. Add some white wine and stir it once. Cook on medium heat, let the liquids evaporate.
  8. How to make risotto: add white wine

    Add white wine

  9. The rice should be cooked on medium low-medium heat, and the stock kept close to boiling temperature, otherwise it cools off the rice. Cooking requires your full attention, the steps described below have to be repeated until the rice is done. The exact cooking time for the rice is indicated on the package, usually 16-18 minutes.
    1. Pour 1 – 1 1/2 ladle (that is 1/3-1/2 cup or 100-150 ml) of the hot stock on the rice.
    2. How to make risotto: pour a small quantity of the hot stock on the rice

      Pour a small quantity of the hot stock on the rice

    3. With a wooden spoon or spatula stir the rice so that the liquid covers the rice evenly. Let the rice cook for a minute, stirring occasionally. The very essence of real Italian risotto is adding the stock little by little then let it evaporate. Usually it takes 1 – 1 1/2 minute to evaporate the stock depending on the size of your saucepan and the heat. When all the liquids have evaporated, start the process all over again by pouring some hot stock on the rice.
    4. How to make risotto: repeat the process of pouring hot stock and stirring the rice

      Repeat the process of pouring hot stock and stirring the rice

  10. Between two steps grate the Parmesan and cut up the other ingredients of your choice: vegetables, mushroom, sausage etc.
  11. About two minutes before the rice is ready, add your other ingredients to the risotto. Stir and add a little more broth. The result should be creamy and saucy, resembling to a rich, dense and somewhat overcooked soup. To get an idea, check out my last picture: rice in a creamy, thick sauce with porcini mushrooms.
  12. Before done, add grated Parmesan and stir. Cook for about half a minute, then take off the heat. According to the Italians, rice has to be ‘al dente‘, just like pasta. It should not be overcooked. Add the remaining butter and cover it. Let it stand for 2 minutes, until the butter melts. If it’s too thick just add some more stock.

How to serve risotto?

Serve your risotto hot, right after it is done. As time passes the rice soaks up the liquid and it won’t be the same. To excel it; sprinkle grated Parmesan on top and add a little olive oil if you like.


Ossobuco – Italians serve it with risotto. Source: Wikipedia

Risotto is a starter (primi piatti) in Italy, similarly to pasta. Portions are small and there is a main dish, usually meat to follow. I think Italians must be the only ones with this unique meal order, as in most countries pasta or risotto are great main dishes in theirs own rights.

There is one exception to that however, when risotto happens to be the main dish in Italy. It is then usually served as some sort of a garnish. As an example, risotto flavored with saffron (risotto alla milanese) is frequently served as a garnish to another typical Italian meat dish, Ossobuco (originating also from Milan, literally meaning and being veal shank).

Risotto recipes

Coming soon…

Porcini risotto

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