By Team NSHM | Oct 26, 2017

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 Origin:

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 Ingredient:

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 Process:

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.