What is Risotto?

Risotto is a celebrated and popular rice dish that is gradually cooked in hot stock (beef, vegetable or chicken) until it reaches a smooth, creamy consistency. The rice can be cooked with vegetables, meat, or mushrooms, and is usually seasoned with butter and Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, at the end of cooking.

Risotto is often considered the pasta of Northern Italy because it originated in rice growing areas of Northern Italy.

The rice used to make risotto is medium to short-grained, high in amylopectin (a branched starch), and low in amylose (a linear starch).This kind of rice absorbs a lot of water and releases starch, eventually resulting in the creamy consistency that defines risotto.

What is the best rice for risotto?

The principal rice varieties used in Italy are Arborio, Baldo, Carnaroli, Maratelli, Padano, Roma, and Vialone Nano.

Carnaroli, Maratelli and Vialone Nano are the most expensive varieties. Carnoli is less likely to get overcooked. Maratelli is a small grained rice that absorbs flavours very well.

The common basic ingredients used in making risotto is butter, chopped onions, wine (usually white)  and good quality authentic Parmesan cheese. Making good risotto is an expensive affair.

Below is Tomato Parsley Risotto with Red Wine.

Tomato Parsley Risotto with Red Wine myfavouritepastime.com

How Risotto is Cooked

Risotto should be cooked in a heavy bottom pan that is broad enough to allow the rice to spread evenly while stirring. The rice should be stirred in circular motion from the centre outwards.

Usually, the chopped onion is gently sautéed in butter. The rice is stirred in and coated with the butter and onion. If wine (usually white) is being used, it should be added, after sautéing the rice and onion, and cooked until fully absorbed, before ladling in the stock.

The hot stock is added 3-4 ladlefuls at a time, each ladleful being absorbed before the next is added. The rice is stirred frequently during cooking to release the starch and increase the creaminess of the risotto.

The final step is called ‘Mantecatura‘. Off the heat,  butter is first whisked into the risotto and then then grated Parmesan cheese. The rice is left to stand for 1-2 minutest, to allow  the butter and cheese to melt. (Ingredienti: Marcella’s Guide to the Market)

When risotto is fully cooked, the rice should be soft but with a bite in the middle. It should have a rich creamy consistency and with separate grains. The traditional consistency is fairly fluid but you can vary the consistency to suit your palate.

Risotto should be served immediately, without delay, onto an individual flat plate rather than a bowl. The host should shake the plate with a circular motion to spread out the risotto so that the guest can start eating at the edges, towards the centre, which keeps warmer the the edges. (Ingredienti: Marcella’s Guide to the Market).

It should never be re-heated. It’s usually served before the main course.

The range of added ingredients and flavours has expanded over the years as it became an international dish.

Below is  Risotto with Sausage and Roasted Bell Pepper.

Risotto with Sausage and Roasted Bell Pepper myfavouritepastime.com

Below is Risotto with Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes.

Risotto with Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes 

Below is Sweet Potato Risotto.

Sweet Potato Risotto myfavouritepastime.com

Below is Butternut Squash Risotto.

Butternut Squash Risotto myfavouritepastime.com

myfavouritepastime.com Last Updated: 24 August 2019

Author: Liz

I love everything food: eating, cooking, baking and travelling. I also love photography and nature.

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