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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.