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To stir or not to stir ... that's the question, certainly with risotto...

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Do risottos need to be stirred all the time or not?

 

I love making risotto and I will not change my method, unless I'm doing something fundamentally wrong, such as the stirring. I stir all the time. However, I always kind of fold big spoonfulls of rice instead of beating the rice around.

 

Some sources advise to stir all the time. One of them is Giorgio Locatelli. I saw him last week again pointing at "some renowned chefs in the UK who say risotto doesn't need to be stirred" as opposed to him, being authentic Italian and his grandmother of 80+ who always stirred risotto. I'm kind of in Locatelli's camp...

Some say that stirring cause the grains to rub against each other, releasing just enough starch to make the risotto creamy. Good point imo!

 

There's also this young Italian cook in my own country who has his very own vision. Mind you, he's somewhat of an "enfant terrible" and very outspoken.

He stirs all the time, but, more in the beginning than at the end. Reason given; at the beginning the ricegrains are solid and stirring will do them no harm. Further in the cooking process, the grains become softer and could break and release too much starch, which may turn the risotto mushy. I think he also has a good point!

 

There's also another camp that says; put all the broth in and don't stir. Raymond Blanc does it and suggest to only stir at the end, which -dixit Blanc- makes also a creamy risotto...

Here I agree with Locatelli. His remark on this method; "It's no risotto..." (you need to add a sarcastic smile on Locatelli's face)

What' your preference?

 

 

Maybe another question too. The young Italian I just mentioned, also uses... spanish bomba rice. According to him with very good result.

Locatelli prefers carnaroli or vialone. He advises not to use arborio in risotto because it contains too much starch and is better fit for rice puddings!

And what's your favorite kind of rice to make risotto? 

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post #2 of 21

I always stir with a wooden spoon. As far as rubbing grains together ??

I use arborio and  always have, so have 4 out of 5 of places I worked.. I do rinse my rice first to rinse off some starch. I can't recall having problems but then I am not Italian.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #3 of 21

I use Carnarolli and stir from beginning to end. I always stir when fist sauteeing then when adding the wine and then the stock. I was under the impression that not stirring will cause some of the kernels not to cook all the way through

post #4 of 21

Chris,

  I'm on the sweet side so take this with a grain of salt.

When we lived over the business with my Grandmother she always called Pop when it was time to make

risotto. He stirred in the beginning and switched to swirling and flipping towards the end. By flip I mean the technique of flipping the pan as you would when you sautee vegies or something. I can't remember exactly why because of the language but it had to do with the risotto  skinning over before we ate  if you used the spoon all the way.

For what's it's worth. I do the same today but use a spoon every once in a while to make sure I'm not burning. I use Arborio

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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is To Short!!
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post #5 of 21

Chris,

 

I personally use Arborio. Stir from beginning to end with a few flips in between. When I first saw your post it reminded me of Kevin's post awhile back and I learned something new and thought I would re-post....just thought the read might be of interest.....

Risotto non-stir method 

Petals
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Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

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post #6 of 21

I use Arborio. I stir at the beginning and kind of fold near the end.

post #7 of 21

I remember the first time I made risotto. I was so proud because it looked picture perfect and tasted spot on. I take a picture and put it on FB and someone trolled me right away. "No way that was worth stirring for a half hour straight!"

 

Fact was, though, that I barely fussed with it at all, and I still don't. When it's simmering, only give it a quick gentle stir after adding more stock. However when it's almost done and i'm adjusting seasonings and adding things, i'm constantly stirring, tasting, adjusting. Maybe i've gotten lucky, but I never rinse either, and I"m yet to get any grainy starchy feel to it.  

post #8 of 21

I guess it depends on how you like your risotto.  I was watching Top Chef All-stars and Trey got sent home for making a risotto that was too stiff.  I guess that's the way he likes it, but the judges were adamant about how the risotto should "spread" when you put it on a plate.  I like that but I like my risotto to be soft and very starchy.  No al dente rice for me.  I find that it doesn't need much stirring though to achieve this.  I stir mostly in the beginning and then just occasionally.  Let it do it's thing, I don't have to nurse it.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 

After reading these posts and also the previous thread that Petals pointed at, I would conclude that making risotto has everything to do with how we all learned it and kept performing our very own method. I dought wether there's a foolproof method that would overrule any other method, originally Italian or not. But, let's be honest, I guess our Italian friends have the benefit of the dought since they invented risotto.

 

Even Italians may not agree with each other when it comes to the viscosity of risotto. Many times in cooking programs I watch contestants try to put risotto on their plates using a serving ring and make a tower of rice... To me that's not a risotto. You can't make a tower with risotto imo. That may expand the discussion how "all onda"(flowing) a risotto should be. There's one certainty; a risotto is eaten with a fork, not a spoon.

 

Also, should a risotto be al dente or soft? How long should the cooking time be? I never timed it, but it takes me around 30 minutes to cook a risotto with carnaroli, from start (sweating onion a couple of minutes) to the end (including a short resting period).

 

Personally I have tried arborio, carnaroli and spanish bomba. Not too many differences between all of them. I now have a package of arborio open, but, carnaroli seems to keep the most "bite" imo and gives the best almost glossy creamyness at the same time.

post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pcieluck View Post

... However when it's almost done and i'm adjusting seasonings and adding things, i'm constantly stirring, tasting, adjusting. Maybe i've gotten lucky, but I never rinse either, and I"m yet to get any grainy starchy feel to it.  



That's also my opinion on finishing risotto; keep on tasting/adjusting it! I even start tasting just over halfway the cooking time, only to watch how the "bite" evolves.

 

I also never rinse to eleminate starch. I don't see the point of rinsing since a risotto needs that starch to get creamy! Stirring risotto rubs the grains onto each other, which causes more starch to be released. At least, that's what I have learned and it certainly convinces me of the necessity of the stirring... I'm just not sure how much stirring is needed.

 

 

post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisBelgium View Post





That's also my opinion on finishing risotto; keep on tasting/adjusting it! I even start tasting just over halfway the cooking time, only to watch how the "bite" evolves.

 

I also never rinse to eleminate starch. I don't see the point of rinsing since a risotto needs that starch to get creamy! Stirring risotto rubs the grains onto each other, which causes more starch to be released. At least, that's what I have learned and it certainly convinces me of the necessity of the stirring... I'm just not sure how much stirring is needed.

 

 



Chris !  The rice you buy in the local market is probably a better quality then we buy commercially. A lot of places uy by price alone.Our 50# bags are starchy thats why I rinse it off. Home I buy a vac. packed quality rice and don't have to rinse it. most of the time I tell buy picking up a handful then putting it back and then looking at my hand.

 

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #12 of 21

I stir all the time and use Carnaroli as that was the way I was taught. My first risotto many years ago turned out perfectly using this method  and has done ever since so the way I see it is...why change?

post #13 of 21

Cook's Illustrated espouses an occasional stir.

 

I'm a fan of the pressure cooker method for risotto. Very fast and no stirring. Good results.

post #14 of 21

Use science: make it both ways and check out the results. So many books repeat errors from elsewhere. How many times have you heard the pepper myth that the seeds are where the most heat is? 

post #15 of 21

worth mentioning, I tend not to stir so much partly because of the big bouquet garni i have in it. I don't want to break it and have bits of twig all over the place.

post #16 of 21

As has been said, try it both ways, find your preference.  But, I like to stick with adding hot stock a bit at a time until it's aborbed enough to get the right balance.  Practice makes perfect.  Ok, most of the time unless the phone rings :D

 

Phatch, I'm wondering if the pressure cooking method isn't more like a pilaf?  I am probably completely wrong, but it's just a thought. I actually have no idea of this method to be quite honest, so forgive me for my lack of knowledge here.

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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
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post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by phatch View Post

Cook's Illustrated espouses an occasional stir.

 

I'm a fan of the pressure cooker method for risotto. Very fast and no stirring. Good results.



Funny you should have brought that up Phatch. Last night I made herb and Parmesan risotto as an appetizer at work and while stirring the mixture over the stove I had my Cooks Illustrated in my other hand and read the article from March/April of 1993. It concurs.

post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by pcieluck View Post

worth mentioning, I tend not to stir so much partly because of the big bouquet garni i have in it. I don't want to break it and have bits of twig all over the place.



 Might it be easier to put the bouquet garni in the stock instead of the rice?  Nobody likes to eat twigs.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #19 of 21
The. Pressure cooker method looks like a pilaf technique but the results aren't like that at all.
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by phatch View Post

The. Pressure cooker method looks like a pilaf technique but the results aren't like that at all.


Phatch, I was wondering about this pressure cooker method how to estimate the right degree of softness of the rice. In fact, a "handmade" risotto takes all-in about 30 minutes, but cooking rice in a pressure cooker must be just a fraction of that cooking time?

post #21 of 21

It's 6 minutes under pressure, quick release.You have some time before that with sauteing in oil/butter/aromatics and some time at the end for finishes such as cheese/butter/seafood or other garnishes. Generally about 15 minutes from when you start chopping aromatics and measuring out ingredients until you serve it at the table.

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