During these testing times throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, our daily routines have changed for many of us. Life as we used to know it doesn’t exist anymore and we are having to adapt to a new way of living.
During this time, I’m thinking of content that will benefit you guys the most. What we do seem to have a lot on our hands is time, so I have started a little ‘How to cook series’ to teach and share my tips to perfecting certain Italian dishes. Simple steps, broken down which I hope will be forever locked into your memory and uplevel your cooking.
The first episode is how to cook a perfect risotto. Risotto is a northern Italian staple. It’s the equivalent to pasta in the south for the country. So, it was a skill I had to teach and perfect myself over many years. Researching what was the best way to cook and enjoy this Italian grain. There are 12 simple tips, from what equipment to use to how you know when to add more stock, from when is the right time to season it to how often you should stir it.
100g risotto per person
400ml stock per 100g risotto
Types of risotto:
Arborio is typically longer and wider than carnaroli and vialone rice. It’s not as starchy as them either so takes a little longer with liquid absorption. It’s the most widely available in supermarkets.
Carnaroli has a higher starch content and firmer texture. It’s perceived to be superior to arborio. Creates a creamier risotto.
Vialone Nano is shorter and thicker than arborio and is nearly impossible to overcook. It can absorb more than twice in liquid. It’s is perfect for creating a very hearty risotto.
Enjoy guys and let me know what you think.
- When picking your pan, don’t choose anything too wide as it will cook in a thin layer. You want the risotto grains to get cosy with each other and create starch which creates the creaminess we are looking for in the end result.
- Onion is a great base for many risottos. Make sure you slice it as thin as possible. Then you will want to fry it until it softens and is translucent in either butter or olive oil.
- I would suggest cooking the key vegetables separately to your risotto. If you add the vegetables too early they could end up being mushy. So by cooking them separately and adding them towards the end of cooking the risotto, your dish will have more texture.
- Ensure you don’t rinse your rice before adding to your saucepan as we will lose an abundance of starch to our dish that we need. As soon as it hits the pan, ensure your flame is on high, coat your rice with the fat in the pan with a wooden spoon and toast your rice grains. Stir for a few minutes until the risotto grains become slightly translucent.
- Season you risotto at this point, early in the cooking process. This will give the salt time to penetrate the risotto grain and give you a well-seasoned dish at the end.
- Next, pour in a glass of wine and continue to cook on high heat until it evaporates. The wine gives a depth of flavour to the dish.
- As soon as the wine has evaporated, you want to add your stock which should be simmering in a pan on your hob. Don’t add it lukewarm or cold, as this will cool down the whole cooking process. If the stock is hot, then this will ensure that the risotto is cooked evenly.
- Add the stock gradually. It’s important that you don’t pour all the stock at the same time as that will give you boiled rice. Adding the stock slowly, allows the grains of rice to interact with each other to create that essential starch. It’s important that you wait until the previous addition of stock has absorbed completely before you add the next. If you draw a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan, and the stock immediately runs to fill in that space, there is too much liquid. The bottom of the pan needs to stay clean before you add you’re next ladleful
- Cooking risotto is a slow process. However, don’t cook it on the lowest flame as it will take forever to cook. You want to cook the rice on a medium simmer.
- There are many risotto myths and recipes which state that you must continually stir your risotto. However, I believe if you ensure that you move it time and again and that it’s not getting stuck on the bottom of the pan that’s good enough. If you stir it too much, it can possibly cool down the cooking process and we don’t want that. Find a happy medium.
- Cook the risotto until its ‘al dente’. You want to ensure that it has a bite to it as we do with pasta and we don’t overcook it so it turns into rice pudding. We want the risotto to have some ‘body’ to it when we serve it and not too wet.
- The final tip. Don’t add your cheese and dairy too early in the cooking process as it will just go weird. When the risotto is cooked, add your veggies at this point alongside your parmesan and butter. Give it a good stir and then cover the pan with a lid for a few minutes. When you remove the lid, you will have a perfect risotto.