A fond Italian saying is that risotto is literally a meal in the palm of your hand. This couldn’t be more true – a handful of rice can cook a lovely, comforting supper. It’s also really easy and makes a perfect mid-week meal. In the UK however, people tend to over think rice. It’s the worry over the consistency that seems to start alarm bells ringing. So to stop you running for the panic button, here are a few of our top tips before you start on your very own risotto crusade.
Type of Rice:
It matters. It’s commonly believed that Carnaroli is the Rolls Royce of rice. The well-known shorter, fatter grained Arborio was particularly popular in the days when a risotto was something you’d stand your fork in. These days, the fashion is for a lighter, looser (more Italian) dish, which is where the delicately formed Carnaroli wins out. You should be able to tilt your risotto so it creates ‘waves’. If it doesn’t, the rice has become too sticky, which is what can happen when you use a poor rice.
This is what Italians refer to as the ‘toasting of the rice and onions’. It’s very important that neither brown. If the onions are overcooked, they’ll alter the flavour of the risotto; if the rice browns, it locks in the starch, which you need to achieve the right texture. Basically don’t go there!
There’s a misconception that a glug of wine should be added towards the end. Not true. It should be added as soon as the grains of rice have heated through – you need to hear a sizzle when it hits the pan.
You also can’t scrimp on the quality of the wine. It deserves its place as much as any of the other ingredients so don’t ignore the quality. Cheap vinegary wine will make an acidic risotto that won’t taste creamy and yummy.
This is when you beat in the parmesan and butter at the end. You need to be vigorous and really go for it! We promise it’ll make all the difference – your risotto will be beautifully glossy and unctuous!
Why not take a look at our Mushroom Risotto recipe?