Risotto is often thought of as bourgeois and almost impossible to make, when in reality it’s the epitome of Italian home cooking.
Risotto is a common method of cooking rice in Italy, and is normally served as a first course – except when served as risotto alla Milanese, a famous golden, fragrant risotto dish using saffron and Parmesan, typically served as a main-course dish with ossobuco alla Milanese.
The traditional method of cooking the rice in a broth results in its trademark creamy consistency.
6 rules for making risotto
Prep all your ingredients first, or mise en place,and have your broth simmering and ready to use before you start on the next step.
Soffrito (fried slowly): Similar to mirepoix, this is the flavour base for your risotto. It always includes onion, celery and olive oil, but you can also add other aromatics that you like.
Tostatura (toasting): This is when you pour the risotto rice into the soffrito and stir until every grain is coated with fat. Add more olive oil or butter if necessary. Stir until the edges appear translucent and you can smell it toasting.
Deglaze (to add liquid): You don’t have to deglaze the pan at this point, but we think you should. A splash of white or red wine will add an extra layer of flavour, plus it will lubricate any caramelised bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add about half a cup of wine and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Cottura (to cook): This is when you start adding the broth ladle by ladle. Wait until most of the liquid is absorbed before adding another ladle. This is key to letting the rice create it’s own sauce. After about 12 minutes of this, taste the rice to gauge if it’s cooked through and to adjust the seasoning. The risotto rice should be cooked until al dente, (like pasta); it should have the consistency of a thick porridge.
Mantecatura (to stir everything together): The final step! Add one more ladle of broth, with 1 or 2 tablespoons butter and 1 cup grated Parmesan to make your risotto extra creamy.
Serve immediately. Risotto will continue to cook and lose its creaminess if left to stand.
Now that we’ve whet your appetite…