How to make the perfect risotto.
Risotto should be rich without being heavy. Risotto is a perfect dish to use up left over vegetables or meats and fish. You can make a risotto with minimal ingredients and have a stunning meal at the end of it. You can also make a risotto with just store cupboard ingredients. It a great fullback dish. I love to make mine with seasonal vegetables, a sprinkling of fresh herbs and a generous handful of Parmesan.
However risotto can be hard to get right and can be pretty easy to mess up. Over cook the rice and it can become a mushy disaster, under cook the rice and its almost uneatable. Here are a few of the most common questions asked when making a risotto, hopefully these will give you some key tips so you can make a perfect risotto every time!
How much risotto rice should I use per person?
I would normally use 115g of uncooked risotto rice per person for a main meal. If you are making risotto for a starter I was reduce the rice amount to 85g of per person.
Do you stir constantly?
If you stir constantly you can add too much air to the rice therefore making it too starchy, gluey and sticky. However if you don't stir enough the rice can stick to the bottom of the pan and you wont get a creamy finish. I would recommend stirring your rice every 4-5 mins. Making sure you get all the edges of the pan when you mix.
What type of pan should I use?
If your pan is too wide your rice will be cooking in a thin layer and therefore wont be able to generate enough starch and will loose its creaminess. You will also end up with hot and cold points in the pan which will end up cooking the rice at different times. You should use a pan that fits well with the size of your burner to ensure a equal constant heat is distributed throughout the rice mixture.
When should I add the vegetables and cheese?
You should always pre-cook your vegetables, meat or fish before hand. Apart from your base vegetables or (mirepoix) I use shallots, celery and garlic in my base. You don't want to have mushy overcooked vegetables. Especially when your using tender green vegetables like fresh spinach leaves, peas, asparagus and chard. Always cook beforehand and add at the end along with your fresh herbs. I like to sprinkle my herbs through the rice once you've taken the pan off the heat.
Always add any cheese or cream if your using at the end of the cooking process. Fat can brake under heat and split - this wont help create a silky texture.
Whats is the best type of rice to use?
I always use Carnaroli rice, but any Italian sort grain risotto rice works well. Some good well known brands are Aroborio, Vialone and Nano. You should never wash risotto rice, you need the starch to help create a rich and creamy texture.
The best method for cooking your risotto
- Always start with a lovely nob of butter and a splash of olive oil to (stop the butter burning). Make sure your pan is on a medium to low heat. Add your diced vegetables such as celery, shallots and some garlic. Cook for about 10 mins or until soft and translucent.
- Add your risotto rice to the pan stirring until the rice starts to look translucent. This normally takes about 5 mins. Then add your white wine if your using stirring until all the wine has been absorbed
- Make sure your stock is hot before you start to add any to the rice. If you add cold stock the rice will take ages to cook and will not absorb into the rice as quickly. Only add one ladle at a time and add another ladle once all the liquid has been absorbed.
- Carry on adding stock. Make sure you take the pan off the heat just before you think the rice it cooked as it will continue to cook off the heat and can very easily become overcooked and mushy.
- Once your rice is cooked to your liking add your pre-cooked vegetables or meat and fish if your using. Along with your fresh herbs, cheese and lemon zest if your using it.
- Serve almost immediately as i said before the longer the rice it sat in the pan the more chance the rice will overcook.