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Risotto Help

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I have troubles with Risotto. I have read over and over again all the tricks but for some reason by the time I am out of broth my risotto is still a little hard.

I do keep by broth warm and add it 1 cup at a time.

I don't do anything too fancy with my risotto yet.. just the simple onions and butter.

Is there a trick or is this something I just need to experiment with?

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post #2 of 17
Sounds like you are using a recipe. If you are, the amount of stock or broth stated is only a guide, it all depends on the rice you are using, the heat you are using and the evaporation of broth due to simmering. In short, the rice is done when it has absorbed enough liquid to cook it through. Always over estimate the amount of broth you will need and as a last resort you can add water, although this will result in slightly diluting the overall flavour.
post #3 of 17
I think you mean underestimate as as you say you can always add H20
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post #4 of 17
If you are using a recipe, chances are it worked for someone else. That may not mean it will work for you :) One thing that came to mind was heat. If you have the amount of liquid called for and it doesn't seem to get you past the half way point, is it possible your heat is too high? this might cause the liquid to cook off rather than be absorbed into the rice.
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post #5 of 17
Beat me to it, Kyle. I was going to suggest three possibilities:

1. The heat is too high, as you say.

2. Too much liquid at once, which increases the amount that evaporates rather than being absored. A cup of liquid at a time seems rather high to me. I'd cut that at least in half.

3. Not enough stirring. Stirring is crucial to a good risotto, and is done on an almost non-stop basis.

Obviously, CP123, we don't know your precise procedure. But the general steps are:

1. Saute any aromatics you are using (i.e., shallots, onions, etc.).

2. Add the rice and saute it briefly.

3. Add white wine and cook, stirring, until liquid is absorbed.

4. Add a helping of the liquid (1/4-1/2 cup), and cook, stirring, until absorbed.

5. Repeat (4) until risotto is complete.

FWIW, in my experience most published risotto recipes understate the amount of liquid needed. So, as Bazza suggests, you may want to have extra stock handy.
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post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
What is a good heat. I think the recipe calls for medium high.. is that too high? I use a glass top stove and have a feeling it cooks a little warmer than most.
post #7 of 17
Medium high is ok but all stovetops are different as you say. The cooking heat is not that critical, use judgement rather than adhering to instructions, if you feel it is cooking to fast, lower the heat and vice versa.
post #8 of 17
I think medium high is too high. You want to maintain a heat level to just above a simmer - not a boil.
post #9 of 17
I agree... medium high is too high. medium to low is where I use it and, as mentioned, KEEP STIRRING!!

The trick with risotto is to let the liquid slowly absorb into the rice so if the heat it too high, you're steaming off the liquid and not letting it absorb.

Lower the heat and you should fair better.
post #10 of 17
I'm a heretic and use a pressure cooker. 6 minutes under 15 pounds pressure, no stirring and working small additions of stock. Correct at the end with more stock if needed (rarely) and add the cheese. It comes out great.

Phil
post #11 of 17
When you say a little hard do you mean like al dente as pasta would be or raw? Risotto should have a little bite to it but should be cooked thru, al dente when you are finished with the liquid. If its raw reduce your heat and stir longer, it should never be rushed. If its al dente and you want it cooked a bit longer, well just add a bit more liquid. I worked with a chef years back and he would lecture me on the fine points of risotto, which begins with the wooden spoon and the fact that you havent made it correctly if you havent made it 100's of times. Keep at it and you will find a recipe that you develop that works for you.
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post #12 of 17
A few guys have told me about their pressure cooked risotto. I've been wanting to get a pressure cooker, and when I do that's gonna be one of the first things I try.
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post #13 of 17
The pressure cooker WORKS!

We use it for "rissoto a la minute"! Well, 7 minutes, more than enough time for a three, or more, course meal.
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post #14 of 17
Pressure cookers aside, to make a more or less traditional risotto in a more or less traditional way.

Here are Ten Rules to Better Risotto:

First: You want to use a very starchy rice that will result in a creamy risotto. The three best are probably "arborio" and "carnaroli" from Italy, and "CalRose" from California. Personally, I prefer CalRose, but the Italian rices are obviously the traditional choices.

Second: If everything goes as it should, you'll use a little bit less than 3.5X the amount of stock and wine (by volume) as you will of rice. Therefore, you want to start with about about 4X times more stock -- just to be on the safe side. If you need more fluid, you can always switch to water. Once the stock is in the rice, you've got the stock flavor. A little water won't hurt.

Third: You want to hold your stock hot, so that when you do add more stock from time to time, you won't drop the temperatures drastically.

Fourth: You may hold your stock covered, so that it doesn't evaporate while the rice cooks, but the rice must be cooked uncovered.

Fifth: DO NOT STIR CONSTANTLY. The idea is to get the rice creamy, not gooey. If you stir too much the rice will break up and become a glue-much. Thanks but no thanks.

Sixth: You want your risotto to ride the edge between a fast simmer and a bare boil. You want to see the occasional bubble, but not a rolling boil. On almost every stove, medium-high is too high for the bulk of the cooking (but maybe not to get the first quanta of stock going); medium-low is probably just right. Remember, too cold and too hot -- both have consequences. You want the Goldilocks' "just right." Glass top stoves can be difficult because they're so slow to adjust.

Seventh: There's a cooking acronym: BTABRTAS. It means, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Refer to step Sixth.

Eighth: Add stock as needed ("PRN" in medical jargon). If you're cooking risotto in small enough quantities to feed less than an army, that usually means by the 1/2 cupful and not the cupful. Add it when you can see naked rice at the top. You want to keep adding in small quantities so that the rice isn't swamped or parched when it's finished.

Ninth: Stir just before and after you add stock. Stir enough to keep the rice from sticking, but not much more than that. When the rice is almost done it will start appearing creamy. It's done when it's almost done, not when you run out of stock. How do you know it's almost done? Taste it. When it's almost done, stop adding stock, turn off the flame and stir a few times. Why almost done? Because when it tastes done, it will go to overdone off the flame, while you're plating it. It's a delicate thing. Soft enough to be comfort food, but not muchy. Creamy not gooey.

Ten: So eat already!

Hope this helps,
BDL
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post #15 of 17
One more point, Vialone Nano is also a traditional risotto rice... Although I prefer Carnaroli the others are good too.
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post #16 of 17
Ask two cooks about Risotto and you will get 5 answers.

First and foremost Rice ages and loses moisture if it is not vacuum packed so the freshness of your rice will dictate how much liquid you actually need. If the rice is old it may need quite a bit more than young/new rice, so don’t worry too much about exact quantities at home, in the restaurant it’s different.

The way I made Risotto in the restaurant; it will probably have the purist’s wanting me banned from ChefTalk, but here it goes.

We would sauté ahead of time the aromatics (onion, garlic, shallots, etc) – whatever you are using. At home sauté them in the pot and then REMOVE them.

Then when an order was called in a pot with olive oil (not butter) was gotten hot and the portion of rice (arborio is all we used) was added. It was than cooked in the oil over medium high heat stirring regularly for about 5-7 minutes (If you rush this step you will not get creamy risotto, they rice should turn translucent but NOT brown.)

When it’s translucent toss back in your aromatics give it a quick stir and add your wine/acid ingredient. Reduce 90%.

Then are you ready for it (here comes the sacrilegious statement that will get me sent to the **** of boiling risotto) add in ALL of the hot stock to the pan, it should boil immediately, reduce to simmer.

Hate to burst everyone’s bubble but adding one ladle of stock at a time, stirring till it reduces then adding the next ladle is too time consuming in a real commercial kitchen. Plus when, not if, you get distracted, you will burn the risotto. Second point try these method besides another one listed above, I think you will actually get better results with this method.

When it is 98% done, turn off stove, we added some butter and Pecorino Romano (Purists will scream no butter and only Parmesan) stirred and then covered and LET SIT for 2 minutes – stirred again and plated. Easy, creamy risotto. With this method it took us about 30 minutes from the time the rice hit the oil till it was plated.

FWIW – We knew the exact amount of liquid needed to cook the exact amount of rice so there was no guess work. For me to tell you is pointless because different rice, storage of rice, age, etc will change the amounts. Also if you are looking for a nice arborio rice, costco’s is very good.

Now that I have the Risotto experts frothing at the mouth and wanting to crucify me let me give you a small history of how I learned this method. When I moved to the US after finishing my apprenticeship in France and Austria I was employed by the top Italian restaurant in NYC (this was 40 years ago) and they were known for their risotto. It was there that I learned this method. Later on in my career I was able to tour Italy on a professional cooking tour for chef’s and restaurateurs. Two of the top restaurants in Italy used this very same method and they too were known for their Risotto.

I posted this method on another board and had someone respond with this link stating the exact same method.

http://italianfood.about.com/od/tipstricks1/a/aa091697.htm

So shoot the messenger if you wish, but I have used this method in restaurants that I have owned and have also received rave reviews. As a side note, Paul Prudhomme was known for his risotto also uses this method in his restaurant, but he adds some prodigious amounts of cream and butter at the end.

Good luck and have fun and don’t worry about needing more liquid.
post #17 of 17
Hotchpotch, thanks for the suggestions - fascinating, really!

And I LOVE pecorino romano. Every chance I get I use pecorino romano instead of parmesan - or a mix of both, i.e. for carbonara.
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