Decoding the Risotto
We think Italy whenever someone mentions pasta. But Italian cuisine has more than one gem of dish in its kitty, which though simple, demands a lot of precision. One of these popular delicacies is the humble but tasty Risotto.
The dish originally belongs to Northern Italy. But the power of its impeccable taste has turned it into a worldwide sensation! There are multiple versions of how the Risotto was invented. The most popular theory suggests that, there was a young glassblower apprentice from Flanders who used Saffron as a pigment in a rice dish at a wedding feast. Some others debate that this was the outcome of a political confrontation centered on the cultivation of rice in Italy. But let’s not debate on the origin of something so delectable; instead let’s focus more on the technique & taste.
The main ingredient of the Risotto is Italian starchy rice varieties like Arborio, Vialone Nano, Maratelli and Carnaroli. Rice is first sautéed and cooked in a broth by absorption method and reduced to a creamy consistency. The broth used can be derived from fish, meat or vegetables, which in turn adds a unique flavour. Some prefer adding wine, butter and onion to their risotto. But that is just to customize towards one’s liking.
The ideal and easy way to cook risotto is as follows:
- Step 1: Stock up on the rice for your risotto. Rice is the king in this dish and so we must ensure there is enough to spare.
- Step 2: Get an open contained and add 3 parts water over 1 part rice. This ratio must be maintained at all cost.
- Step 3: Add chicken, fish or vegetables as per your choice in the stock of your preference.
- Step 4: Add aromatics like sauté onions, cooking wine or saffron into it and then add cheese, steamed vegetables, sautéed mushrooms etc into it while continuously stirring it, bringing it to a thick consistency.
- Step 5: When it is thick enough, take it off the flame after adding a generous dollop of butter.
Cooking Myths & Tips:
Risotto takes a lot of precision and attention thanks to the constant stirring; this has lead to some popular myths around cooking it. Let’s debunk a few and focus some more on the technique.
- Avoid using cold stock, it’s a myth. Many articles suggest using cold stock, but in reality it will cool down the ingredients leading to a longer cooking time.
- Over stirring a risotto can kill the essence of the ingredients. The rice will break and the other ingredients will muddle. Find the right groove and stir carefully.
- Don’t add too much stock at a time. Add little by little to give the rice time to absorb the stock properly. This is a paramount technique for taste.
- Risotto need not necessarily cook entirely on low flame. The ideal setting is medium simmer; else it will take a much longer cooking time.
- Always use cooked vegetables to maintain the cooking time. Raw vegetables might lead to overcooking the rice.
- Timing of cheese is also essential. Cheese tends to break in the heat, thus always add it when the risotto is almost done.
- Using wine is optional and when added makes this dish even more delicious!
Some of the most famous Italian risottos are Risotto a la Milanese, Risotto a la Barolo, Risotto a la nero di sepia, Risi e bisi, Risotto a la zucca, Risotto a la pilota, Risotto a la funghi and many more.
If you have any tips which can help to cook risotto quickly, then don’t forget to share that with us.