Risotto secrets

Kitchen tips and hints 1 Comment
Risotto secrets

I’ve always been interested in risotto secrets, that is how to make real, creamy, Italian style risotto. So I decided to find out about all the tips and tricks. Risotto secrets of the real thing, served only in the best restaurants worldwide or throughout Italy. I thought I would share the secret of this dish with you.

About Italian risotto

Risotto is one of the iconic dishes of Italian cuisine. It’s a creamy, savory dish made of round, short or medium grain rice with meat or vegetables. Risotto has at least as many types as there are kinds of vegetables and meat under the Tuscan sun. In Italy risotto, just like pasta, is usually served as a starter (primi piatti). Try it once, and you wouldn’t want to live without it anymore!

Risotto secrets: how to make a perfect risotto

What are the real risotto secrets? What makes a risotto truly Italian? To tell you the truth, you have to pay attention to many details, including the use of excellent ingredients and the method of cooking. I have gathered the most important tricks here. You can also find an article on how to make risotto clicking on the link.

  • The first amongst risotto secrets, and the most important thing is the type of the rice.
  • To get the unmistakeably creamy texture you must use risotto rice, which is round shaped and with high starch content. This kind of rice is rarely used for other than risotto. It is available in most supermarkets, and in most cases there is an indication for risotto type rice on the packaging.

    The most commonly known type of risotto rice is Arborio. But Italians use many others, such as: Baldo, Padano, Roma, Carnaroli and Vialone Nano. The last two, Carnaroli and Vialone Nano, are considered to be the best ones for making risotto.

    Arborio rice grains

    Arborio rice grains


    Risotto secrets: Carnaroli rice grains

    Carnaroli rice grains

  • The second most important thing for making real Italian risotto is the stock that you use while cooking the risotto.
  • Of course, risotto rice cooks in water as well, but it won’t make your risotto really creamy and you’ll miss the big part of the flavors. That is why it is very important to use the best quality, or even homemade  chicken stock or vegetable stock. To intensify the flavors, the stock can be even reduced to half before being added to the rice.

    Homemade Chicken Stock

    Use only the best quality or homemade chicken stock

  • Evenly important is amongst risotto secrets the method of cooking your risotto.
  • I’m preparing a detailed article on how to cook risotto, but until it’s ready, here is a short summary:

    First sauté onion and garlic (sometimes carrots and celery are used as well) in a mix of olive oil and butter for a few minutes, then add rice. It is important to sauté the rice for a couple of minutes in this oil/butter/onion/garlic base to get the right texture. Add a little white wine, stir and let it evaporate.

    Then it is time for cooking. The stock has to be hot, and added to the rice little by little (1 – 1 1/2 ladle, that is 1/3-1/2 cup or 100-150 ml at a time), otherwise your risotto won’t be creamy. Usually, I cook the risotto and heat up the chicken stock side by side as you can see in the picture below. It makes it easier to transfer the stock from one pot to the other and keep both at the right temperature. Add stock, stir and let it evaporate. Repeat it till the risotto is done, cooked al dente. Cooking time is usually shown on the packaging of the rice.

    Risotto secrets: how to cook risotto

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

  • Fats used with risotto: to have really tasty risotto, use fats that have intensive flavors, such as extra virgin olive oil and butter.
  • Start with sautéing the onion and garlic on a mix of olive oil and butter, and add some more butter at the end. Grated Parmesan cheese is not really a kind of fat but it is also indispensable to add a good amount of it to the risotto before it is done. Again, to intensify the flavors.

  • Wine. Some think you can skip it, but it does give a very unique taste to your risotto. The onion sautéed in wine makes the risotto creamier too. In the very beginning when you sauté the rice in the oily-buttery mix for a few minutes, pour in 3-5 ounces (100-150 ml) of white wine. Wait till it evaporates and then you can start adding the stock. This way the dish retains the matchless aroma of the wine, which makes the flavor of the risotto even more colorful.

Picture: Chicken liver risotto

Chicken liver risotto

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