ABC's of Risotto

A perfectly made Risotto Milanese

After having another disappointing risotto I came to the conclusion that all the chefs in Buenos Aires skipped class the day they had the “making a good risotto” lesson in culinary school. And I’m thinking to myself that many Porteños may not have ever tasted a really good risotto unless they have a grandma from Milan or Bologna that helps out with the cooking.

So I figured I’d do a little primer on what risotto is, how it should taste and look, and as a little added bonus for all you cooks that were sleeping on the day the instructor showed you how to do it, how to prepare it.

How a properly prepared Risotto looks?

Like the photo above.

How does it taste?

Like heaven on a plate. It’s creamy and luxuriously rich.

How to properly prepare it?
First Risootto Rule. Use the right rice.

“Risotto” is Italian for rice but is it also the name of the dish of rice that is served at the table. The dish is made with a short grain rice and preferably with risotto Arborio. Even in Buenos Aires and Santiago they have it in the supermarket (Jumbo for example) so there is no good excuse for a restaurant not to use it for an Italian risotto. What difference does it make you say? Well it makes all the difference in the world. A short grain rice will release more starch and create a creamy, luscious “risotto” whereas a long grain rice will produce rice like you get in your sushi rolls.

So let’s recap. Risotto uses a short grain rice that results in a creamy texture in the finished product. Any other rice and any other texture is not risotto. [simple_tooltip content=’Italian for “Do you catch my drift?’]Capiche?[/simple_tooltip]

Second Risotto Rule. Sauté the rice.

You have to lightly sauté the rice in olive oil before beginning to add the stock.

Third rule.  Add the stock slowly, one ladle at a time.

You have to slowly add the stock (chicken, beef or veal) to the rice one ladle at a time, allow the rice to absorb the stock before adding another ladle, and so on, and so on, until it reaches the perfect consistency. Creamy like a pudding, but with the rice still ever so slightly al dente. This process takes patience. And it takes 20 minutes at a minimum in most cases.

But you know what they say. A picture is worth a thousand words. So take a minute and half to view the video and recipe below. Take a careful look at how it’s prepared and how it looks at the end of the process. And next time you get a bowl of risotto that looks like a big glob of rice and not like the photo, walk back with the bowl to the kitchen and turn the bowl upside down on the chef’s head. And of course, refuse to pay for the risotto.

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