Key success factor for tasty and creamy risotto

Category:  Cooking
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Most risotto recipes contain instructions like this:

Add stock in small increments. Stir constantly until the batch has been absorbed, then add another batch. Continue until the rice mixture is creamy.

This needs to be done at the end, after the rice has been cooked. The last step afterward usually is to add butter and cheese into the mixture.

Note that the instructions normally suggest that each batch of the stock needs to be absorbed by rice. In reality, something else is happening. Most of the water actually evaporates. The remaining “mash” gets warmer than boiling point. This speeds up the chemical processes, which create the intense taste of the risotto. These chemical processes are essentially the same as when browning meat.

Other reason for pouring the stock in small batches and stirring constantly is to let loose starch from the rice kernels. Starch makes the mixture creamy.

So the tedious process of adding stock in small batches and stirring constantly is the key to having tasty and creamy risotto. Only the reason for doing this, which most recipes give, is often misleading.


Trick to get it right

Pouring the stock over the rice did not make much difference for me. However, this improvement (possibly implied in your article) makes a difference. Make a hole in the risotto so that you can see the bottom of the pan. Pour the stock in the hole. Wait until most of the water from the stock evaporates. Then stir.

You need to pour small quantities of the stock. If you pour too much you need to wait too long until the water evaporates. In between, the rice that touches the bottom of the pan might get burned.

This is labor intensive indeed but worth the effort.

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Reuse the juices

Another useful idea is to replace stock by the juices, which remain from the ingredients added to the risotto. For example, if cooking mushrooms that are added to the risotto, use the juice from mushrooms instead of stock. You will create a nice effect where the flavor of mushrooms will be enhanced by the subtle mushroom flavor of the rice.

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