A creamy yet al dente risotto is an absolute must know recipe when learning to cook Italian food at home. Despite having established a faux name for being a tricky dish, risotto is actually incredibly easy. Once you master the basic technique of cooking risotto, there are no limits to the flavours and variations you can create.
From a simple creamy milanese to a pumpkin risotto or one that is oven baked, this dish is comfort food at it’s best and a winter dish we have been creating on rotation. The best part is, once you understand the simple rules of making a risotto, it is basically full proof.
Here are our top tips and frequently asked questions when it comes to cooking risotto at home:
Why you shouldn’t wash aborio rice before cooking a risotto
Ever wonder why risotto creates a full flavoured creamy texture without the addition of cream? When you add the stock or other liquids to the rice during the cooking process, the starch in the rice is released. When the starch meets the heat in the pan, it creates a rich texture.
If you were to wash the rice beforehand, like you do when cooking other rices, you would loose some of the essential starch that holds the dish together so perfectly.
How to create a base for risotto
- Add a small knob of butter and a drizzle of olive oil into the pan or pot
- Add finely chopped onion, garlic other ingredients of your choosing such as leek
- Stir until tender
- If you are using white wine in your risotto, you can add a teaspoon or two into the base and mix to deglaze the pan.
TIP: Before you begin the base of your risotto, have all of your other ingredients chopped and ready to go. Although easy, if you are cooking risotto on the stove top, it requires attention.
Should I use stock or wine for risotto?
Both! You can use a combination of stock and white wine for your risotto recipe. You can either use wine to simply start the base of the dish or with every cup of stock you add, you can add a dash of wine. Although using wine in risotto isn’t essential, it does add a depth of flavour.
Many recipes will call for chicken stock in risotto, but you can also use vegetable stock if preferred.
How to tell when your risotto is done
Like pasta, you want your risotto to be al dente. It must have a soft, starchy outer but still have a little bit of ‘bite’ in the centre.
You want to see that your risotto has a clear outer, but still see a white centre inside the grain.
How to cook risotto quickly?
Cooking risotto can take a little bit of tender, love and care. To speed up the process, start your risotto and go through the regular motions of adding a cup of stock or your other liquid of choice, stirring and repeating once the liquid has evaporated. Once you start to see a change in the grain, simply cover with stop, place into the oven and check in 5 minute intervals.
TIP: Must use an oven-proof pot. We recommend a small dutch oven.
Which cheese should I use for risotto?
We recommend a strong parmesan cheese or a romano cheese that provides a sharp, deep flavour. Grate the cheese and mix it through your finished risotto to give your dish an extra element of flavour. You can also add extra grated or shaved cheese when serving.
Can you cook a risotto with cream?
Due to the natural release of starch when cooking risotto, adding cream isn’t necessary. However, if it’s extra creaminess you desire, simply add a few teaspoons to your cooked risotto and stir to combine.
When to add vegetables to your risotto?
This question all depends on the type of vegetables you are using. Think about whether your vegetables are fast or slow cooking and this is a good indicator as to when you should add them. Here are some examples:
For fast cooking veggies like spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes, add them right at the very end, as they wilt. This same principle applies to herbs like chives, thyme or basil.
Slow cooking veggies like pumpkin or sweet potato will need to be added at the very beginning OR roasted in the oven for extra flavour and added at the very end.
Risotto recipe ideas
Now that you have the skills to create a fantastic risotto, check out our favourite risottos in this hearty recipe collection:
Here’s an example of what you’ll find in the collection:
*DISCLAIMER: Perfect Italiano is a contributing recipe Partner at myfoodbook.com.au. This feature includes a mix of content sourced from Perfect Italiano and our own opinions. You can find out more about the full range of Perfect Italiano Cheese, here.