Risotto is certainly the ultimate comfort food. When it comes to this classic Italian rice dish, there’s as much comfort in the making as in the eating. But cooking the perfect risotto is not only a question of recipe, it involves some technique. And it’s a dance that’s a little easier if you follow these tips:
1. Use the right pot: a skillet is often too wide, and a saucepan would be too narrow. A 5- to 6-quart stainless-steel or enameled-cast-iron pot is just the right size.
2. Choose a risotto rice: there are several varieties, specific to risotto. They are able to absorb large amounts of liquid without breaking down to mush. Arborio being the most common, Carnaroli and Vialone nano worth a try for their firmness.
3. Measure your ingredients: keep this ratio in mind one cup of rice, 3 cups of liquid will yield 2 cups risotto.
4. Toast the rice: This steps helps keep the rice al dente at the core. Frying the rice with oil until creates a coating that keeps the rice from absorbing too much liquid or releasing too much starch and falling apart into a puree. With this preliminary twist, you’re in control!
5. Add the wine first: Wine softens the toasted rice and adds acidity and flavor. If water is absorbed first, rice won’t absorb another liquid easily afterward.
6. Dilute the stock: If you are using store-bought chicken stock, buy the low- or no-salt variety. Whether it’s homemade or store bought, always dilute it with an equal amount of water. If you use chicken stock too heavily, it will mask the overall taste..
7. Make sure the broth is hot: cold broth will coagulate the starch coming from the rice. It will affect the creaminess we are looking for.
8. Add the broth slowly: Don’t flood your risotto. Keep the rice hydrated ladle after ladle, so it keeps its kernel al dente.
9. Keep stirring: stirring constantly prevents the rice from sticking to the sides of the pot and helps it release its starch.
10. Let risotto stand before serving: a 5-minute rest gives the butter and cheese time to melt into the liquid and bind to the rice, making for unbelievably silky risotto.
11. Eat it right away: rice will continue to absorb liquid so it will grow and eventually become mushy if you wait for too long.