Knowing how to make a good risotto is something every cook should have in their back pocket, if only because it’s one of those dishes that’s so satisfying and easy to prepare, and it never fails to impress.
How to Make Risotto
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
1 small onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups arborio, carnaroli, or vialone nano rice
1/2 cup white wine
6-8 cups vegetable stock
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 cup cheese (Parmesan is classic, but you can use any kind)
High-sided sauté pan (at least 10″ diameter) or dutch oven
Ladle or measuring scoop
1. Risotto Prep – Measure, chop, and gather all of the ingredients going into your risotto. Warm the broth in a saucepan over low heat. It should be just barely steaming by the time you start the risotto.
2. Soffrito – This is the flavor base of your risotto. It almost always includes onions, but you can add any other aromatics, spices, or ingredients you would like. Sauté these ingredients in a healthy amount of butter (which is traditional) or olive oil over medium-high heat until the onion is translucent and beginning to break down. Add the garlic and other spices, and cook until fragrant.
3. Tostatura – Pour the rice into the soffrito and stir until every grain is coated with fat. (Add more fat if needed – this is not the time to skimp!) Continue stirring the rice until the edges have turned translucent but the center is still opaque. You should also be able to smell the aroma of toasted rice.
4. Deglaze – Deglazing the pan at this point isn’t strictly necessary, but a splash of white wine will add another layer of flavor and help lift up any bits that have caramelized to the pan. Use a 1/2 cup or so of wine, and simmer until the wine has completely reduced and the pan is nearly dry.
5. Cottura – Begin incrementally adding the warm broth one ladle at a time. Wait to add another ladle until the liquid has been almost completely absorbed by the rice. This gradual addition of liquid is key to getting the rice to release its starch and create its own delicious sauce, so don’t rush this step. Ideally, you want to use just enough broth to cook the rice and no more.
Begin tasting the rice after about 12 minutes to gauge how far it has cooked. Add salt and other seasonings as needed. The risotto is ready when the rice is al dente (when it still has a bit of chew) and the dish has the consistency of thick porridge. If you run your spatula through the risotto, the risotto should flow slowly to fill in the space.
6. Mantecatura – As a final step, add one more ladle of broth along with one or two tablespoons of butter and a cup of cheese to enrich the risotto and make it extra-creamy.
Here’s a video to show you how to make the perfect risotto. If you haven’t watched, Gennaro Contaldo cook yet, you’re missing out! He’s adorable!