Risotto Secrets: The Six Steps to Risotto Perfection

Making risotto is not particularly hard: rice, water, ingredient, time, right? Well, not quite. The route to risotto perfection is scattered with obstacles, but these five steps will make your dish an impeccable one!

Step 1: Soffritto

Every great risotto starts with a good soffritto: sautéing onions in butter or olive oil. Butter is really for it to taste better, but oil is what I usually use… At this stage, you will also want to add ingredients that are particularly “sturdy”, e.g. will be able to sustain cooking at high temperatures for almost 20 minutes. Not many ingredients are in this category, other than dried mushrooms and meat. I like risotto with peas and sausages, so I add sausage at this stage, and peas toward the end.

Step 2: Tostatura

Tostatura comes from the verb meaning “to toast” and it refers to the rice grains. You will add your rice to the soffritto with no liquid, so that each grain gets warmed up. This is where picking the right rice becomes really important! Tostatura will ensure uniform cooking of the grain, so it’s a fairly important step. Make sure all the rice is nicely toasted, and then you can add a glass of wine and stir till it evaporates completely before moving to the next step.

Tostatura del Risotto

Step 3: Stock

First of all, don’t use water- use stock. Stock is very flavorful and it will ensure a perfect end result, and it can be prepared in just 20 minutes if you have shrimps shells (for fish stock), chicken bones or just a few vegetables to throw in a pot. It’s seriously worth your time, although I will never admit in public I sometimes use bouillon dissolved in hot water…
Stock will be added slowly, one ladle at the time, and replenished when it is almost completely absorbed by the rice. Stock addition needs to be accompanied by continuous stirring, so that the temperature is maintained constant and each grain gets the same exposure.

Mantecatura del Risotto

Step 3Bis: Ingredients

The important part of risotto comes in about 2 thirds of the way in the cooking process: asparagus (the harder stems can be added at the beginning, the softer tips at this stage), peas, fresh mushrooms- your only boundary is availability of ingredients, as almost anything can be paired in a risotto!

Step 4: Resting

In order to prepare risotto for serving, you first need to give it a break. This means taking the rice off the heat when the rice grains are still a bit al dente and let it rest, without stirring. The process allows the temperature to come down and to prepare risotto for the last and most important step of them all.

Step 5: Mantecatura

Manteca is Spanish for butter. It is said that this process was originally adopted during the Spanish ruling of Lombardia during the Renaissance. At this stage, you will do what you can to emulsify the rice and give its creamy consistence that makes for a great risotto all’onda- beat in really cold butter cubes and cheese (most of the times Parmigiano) till you reach the right texture. This is an intense process that will leave your arm hurting, but you will be rewarded by the wonderful sound a risotto mantecato makes in the pot (a deep tonf tonf) and perfection in the plate for you and your dinner guests.

Buon Appetito!

Risotto at E\' Tutto Qua

PS: Leftovers? What leftovers? Okay- if you happen to make extra- and I usually try to!- risotto is great the following day to make arancini

Arancini Siciliani, the best use of leftover risotto

Credits: I learned how to make risotto from my mum, but I had never seen it so exaustively spelled out like Giorgio Locatelli does in his book, Made in Italy- Food & Stories. Breaking it down in these five steps is his idea, and I have learned a lot more about risotto just by reading his work!

3 Responses to “Risotto Secrets: The Six Steps to Risotto Perfection”

  1. Thanks, this is really useful!

  2. [...] perfect pairing”, is with eggs, but you will often find it served in a parmesan risotto whose flavor comes exclusively from the truffle, or with homemade pasta, like tagliatelle. But the [...]

  3. Hello:
    Thank you so much for your offerings on Risotto. I am an organizer of a meetup group called Aspiriing Gourmet with meetup.com and next week our meetup will consist of making Risotto. I will offer four types so to give a feel of how versatile this grain is. These tips will certainly come in handy. I also make one with a chicken stock with fanuke/finocchio and leek and white wine offering a wonderful taste to this mysterious grain for many.

    Again, thank you.
    Catherine Nochella

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