How To Make Risotto Perfectly
There are several varieties of rice that are suitable for risotto. The three principal varieties are arborio, canaroli, and vialone nano. I have used all three and my personal favorite is arborio.
I prefer it over the others for three reasons, first it is readily available in most grocery stores in the states, second it produces the perfect amount of starch, for me, third it retains a firmer texture when it is cooked, compared to the other two.
Risotto is different from most other rice recipes. To start with it takes what it takes, there is no 1 cup of rice to 3 cups water. If someone tells you there is they don’t know how to make risotto. If you look at the directions printed on the container it tells you use 1 cup of rice and 3 cups of stock. That is not correct, risotto takes what it takes. It is done when the rice is perfectly cooked, not when you have added some set amount of liquid.
Risotto is a process that requires constant attention and near constant stirring. If you don’t want to do this don’t make risotto. Most other rices you can add to a pot with some liquid, cover and walk away. You come back 20 or so minutes later and you have rice. Risotto doesn’t do that. There is no set amount of time to make risotto, however it usually takes between 20 to 25 minutes.
Risotto requires a wooden spoon, if you use metal utensils they damage the grains and your risotto will be shit. There is no other way to say that.
When I was in culinary school we had risotto day. Bear in mind I went to culinary school in Italy. Our days started with a 2 hour long Italian language lesson followed by either a history class for two hours or an enology class for two hours then it was onto the kitchen class. Risotto day was different. We started in the kitchen at 8 in the morning and we made risotto until about 10 that night. Yep, that’s right, 14 long grueling hours of nothing but risotto.
We walked into class that morning and the chef began by telling us, “During the course of your careers you are going to work for people that can show you how to cook meat or how to cook fish but you are never going to meet anyone that can teach you how to make risotto the right way. Only the Italians know how to make risotto right.” Thus began risotto day. Next the chef demonstrated how to make risotto. Then we went about making risotto. After each plate we would take the plate to one of the chefs. They would look at it and loudly pronounce, This is shit, do it again. That went on all day long.
But the outcome is that I learned how to make risotto better than most. If you do what I say, so will you. One last thing, there aren’t any pictures of the steps. To do that I would have to stop and set up the camera and then my risotto would be, well, shit.
Trim the ends of the asparagus. The quickest way to do this is to take one from the bunch and snap the stem off. The point where the stem snaps gives you a good indication of where to cut the rest, (image 1).
Line up the remaining asparagus stalks, (image 2).
Cut all the stalks to the same length, (image 3).
Next cut the tips off just below the flowery head. Set the tips aside in a bowl. Next cut the stalks into 1/4 inch round pieces, (image 4).
Collect the pieces and place in another bowl.
When you dice onions for risotto the onion needs to be approximately the same size as the grains of rice, as these are.
In this picture my wife is holding the plate of risotto vertically, or perpendicular to the ground. The risotto is not falling off the plate it is adhering, as it should. If you keep holding it like that it will slowly slide off the plate. That is how to make risotto near perfectly.
To plate risotto mound the risotto into the center of a round plate and gently pat down with the back of a spoon. Next Firmly hold the edges of the plate and rap the bottom of the plate on the counter a few times to spread the risotto evenly. Don’t hit the counter so hard that you shatter the plate. Arrange half of the tips in a mound on top of the risotto and sprinkle with a light dusting of parmigiano. Drizzle the risotto with extra virgin olive oil.
How To Make Risotto Like An Italian
- Yield: 2 servings
- Prep time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: varies, about 25 minutes
For The Vegetable Stock
- 2 medium onions, rough chopped
- 2 stalks celery, washed, trimmed and chopped
- 1 small to medium carrot, peeled and chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon peppercorn
- 8 to 10 sprigs thyme
For The Risotto
- Vegetable stock from above
- 1 bunch asparagus
- Extra virgin olive oil, to coat
- 1/4 medium onion, fine dice
- 1 cup arborio rice
- white wine, to cover
- 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 80 to 100 grams Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
- kosher salt to taste
For The Vegetable Stock
- Combine the onion, celery, carrot, bay leaf, peppercorn and thyme in a 6-quart pot. Add enough water to just cover everything and set over a medium-low burner. As the stock heats up adjust the burner to low and allow to cook for one hour. Remember there should be just an occasional bubble breaking the surface about every 1 to 3 seconds.
- When the stock is finished pass trough a fine mesh strainer. You should have about 4 to 5 cups of stock. Transfer the stock to a 3 or 4-quart saucepan, cover with a lid, and set aside.
For The Asparagus
- When you are ready to start the asparagus set the stock over a low burner.
- Place a 3 quart pot half full of water over a high flame. Bring to a rolling boil, salt the water liberally, and return to a full boil.
- Meanwhile, trim the ends of the asparagus. The quickest way to do this is to take one from the bunch and snap the stem off. The point where the stem snaps gives you a good indication of where to cut the rest. Reserve the ends for another use, as you like.
- Next cut the tips off just below the flowery head. Set the tips aside in a bowl.
- Next cut the stalks into 1/4 inch round pieces. Collect the pieces and place in another bowl.
- Prepare an ice bath in a large mixing bowl set in your sink. Blanch the tips of the asparagus until crisp tender, about 3 to 5 minutes depending on size. When the tips are done use a small strainer or slotted spoon to remove them from the water. Add them to the ice bath to stop the cooking. Once cooled transfer the tips from the ice bath to a bowl and set aside.
- Add the diced stalks to the water and blanch until crisp tender, about 1 to 3 minutes. Again remove and submerge in the ice water. Once cold transfer to another clean bowl and set aside.
For The Risotto
- When you are cutting onions for risotto the dice must be as small or smaller than the grains of rice.
- Lightly coat the bottom of a 4 to 6 quart pot with olive oil. Add the onions and set over a medium-low flame. Sweat the onions until translucent. Do not brown the onions. Add the rice all at once and toast until the grains are slightly too hot to handle. You need to stir them around the pot with the wooden spoon. After a couple minutes, pick some of the grains up and hold them in your palm. Keep testing the rice until it becomes too hot to handle.
- When the rice is toasted, add enough white wine to come up about three quarters of the level of the rice. Stir to thoroughly moisten the rice and increase the heat to medium. Continue stirring the rice until the liquid has absorbed.
- Using a 4-ounce ladle add one ladle of stock to the rice. Stir and cook until all of the liquid has absorbed. Repeat this process a second time. After the second addition has absorbed taste one of the grains. It will be soft but with a definite crunch to it. Keep adding stock a ladle at a time, cooking until the liquid is absorbed, and tasting a couple grains, all the while stirring constantly with the wooden spoon.
- The rice is done when it no longer has that hard resistance. It should, however, still have definite texture to the grain, or is al dente.
- Add the butter and a large handful of parmigiano. Stir vigorously with the wooden spoon until the butter and cheese have melted and are thoroughly incorporated. Taste the risotto and add more cheese as needed.
- To finish, transfer the asparagus pieces to a small colander and submerge in the stock for 10 to 20 seconds, just to warm up. Add them to the risotto and stir to incorporate. Taste and adjust the seasoning at this point.
- Repeat with the asparagus tips submerging in the stock, however do not add them to the risotto.
- To plate risotto mound the risotto into the center of a round plate and gently pat down with the back of a spoon. Next Firmly hold the edges of the plate and rap the bottom of the plate on the counter a few times to spread the risotto evenly. Don’t hit the counter so hard that you shatter the plate.
- Arrange half of the tips in a mound on top of the risotto and sprinkle with a light dusting of parmigiano. Drizzle the risotto with olive oil.
Tags: how to make risotto, recette risotto, how to cook risotto, risotto alla parmigiana, asparagus risotto