How to make risotto: traditional vs fast method

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How to Make Risotto

Risotto is an Italian rice dish that’s gotten a bit of a bad rap recently (it’s called the death dish on Masterchef cause everyone who makes it gets eliminated). It’s actually a really easy and versatile dish to make, and it tastes good even if you don’t make it the traditional way. In today’s post I’m going to show you how to make risotto and give you a look at the two different ways you can make it.


Ingredients used in risotto

Risotto, being a rice dish, needs rice. But you don’t use regular long grain or basmati white rice. You need arborio rice instead (it’s a special short grain rice full of starch).

The secret to making the risotto is in the starch, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

However, having said it needs rice I’ve seen quinoa and barley versions too so you can use other grains. The traditional way to make risotto, however, is rice.

Risotto also requires stock and often a glass of white wine. A sprinkle of Parmesan also works well at the end and often people add butter at the beginning. An onion is used too.

The rest of the ingredients are really up to the type of risotto you’re making: risotto blanco, mushroom risotto, lemon and pea risotto or beetroot risotto all have their own ingredients and methods on how to make risotto.


How to make risotto the traditional way

The traditional way to make risotto is to cook some onion in some butter or oil then throw in the rice when the onions are cooked. You then need to coat the rice in the butter/oil before adding stock.

Now, the proper method requires adding one cup/glass of wine and cooking till it evaporates or absorbs. Then you add a cup of stock and let it absorb before you add another cup of stock.

This proper method takes a long time because you need to constantly add stock, wait then add more stock.


How to make risotto the fast way

The fast way to make risotto is to add all the rice and cook off the cup/glass of wine before adding all the stock. Then let it cook away until the rice is almost done.

This fast method means you don’t need to hang around waiting and your dinner’s ready in around 20-25 mins.


The key to a good risotto – stir like crazy

The key to knowing how to make risotto is to stir the rice consistently. Okay, not stir like crazy, but stir consistently so the rice releases all its starch. See, I told you I’d come back to the starch.

A good risotto is one where the rice grains stick to each other and its the starch that helps them stick. It’s the opposite of a good biryani which needs individual rice grains, so to make the rice stick you need to stir and stir often. Conversly, if you’re making a biryani, pilaf or paella you don’t want to stir much.

In the proper method you should stir after each addition of stock until the rice is done.

In the fast method you should stir the rice at regular intervals as it absorbs the rice, like every 5 mins so the rice isn’t sticking to the bottom (which is more like a paella than a risotto). I would also suggest stirring the rice a lot more as you get closer to the end of cooking.


Finishing the risotto

Often you finish a risotto by adding a bit of Parmesan cheese and stirring it through. It’s also good to taste the risotto to see if you need to add extra salt or pepper to balance out the flavour. If it’s a bit too bland add a pinch of stock powder instead of salt (it’s essentially flavoured salt).

When you serve the risotto you can also add a sprinkle of Parmesan too.


Adding vegetables or meat

The recipe you use will determine whether you add other ingredients like vegetables or meat and when you add them.

I often add hard vegetables like sweet potato, carrot and pumpkin at the beginning of cooking so it has the greatest amount of time to cook and get soft. I add the softer vegetables like zucchini in the middle and then add things like peas and baby spinach right at the end before I add the Parmesan.

I’ve found the best way to add meat is to cook it separately and then when I serve the risotto I serve the cooked meat on top. It’ll depend on which recipe you use but I’ve found that cooking the meat in the dish it tends to overcook.

You can also cook vegetables like mushrooms on the side and serve them on top. It really depends if you’re following a recipe, what you prefer and how creative you are.


Here’s an example risotto

In the video below I filmed myself making a pumpkin and veg risotto that I served with prawns. I didn’t follow a recipe but just threw in what I had. I tried to keep the colours to orange and green though for greatest presentation effect (I like my food to look pretty as I eat it).

In this risotto the pumpkin got really soft when I did all the stirring. Accidently it became puréed but that gave the risotto a lovely orange colour and made it look more appetising. I’m going to save that trick in the back of mind and use it another night because it was an unexpected bonus.

So, will you make a risotto this week? It’s pretty versatile so you can use what you have at home already.

P.S. If you love the video let me know in the comments or on Twitter. It’s my first one! 🙂

2 thoughts on “How to make risotto: traditional vs fast method

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