Risotto – that perfectly creamy dish that everyone loves to enjoy at a restaurant, but dreads to make at home. The Italian rice dish, made by stirring hot stock into rice a little at a time during the cooking process, is time consuming – but also surprisingly easy to make yourself.
Risottos are typically flavored with onion that has been sautéed in butter and white wine. Some recipes may also include Parmesan cheese, herbs, a variety of vegetables, chicken or seafood. This dish can’t just be made with any kind of rice, however. Choosing the correct rice for your dish is essential to making the perfect risotto.
So what makes it creamy and delicious? It’s all about the starch – choose Arborio rice for the best results.
Arborio rice is named after a town in the Po Valley where it is grown in Northern Italy. It is a short, plump grain that absorbs lots of liquid and evenly releases its starch (amylose) that thickens the cooking liquid into a sauce. By slowly adding hot stock and stirring continuously, this particular starch makes for a creamy rice dish.
Another attribute of risotto made with Arborio rice is it’s desirable “bite” or chewiness. This characteristic is actually a defect of the rice granule called “chalk.” During maturation, the starch structure in the center of the grain deforms, making for a firm, toothy center after cooking.
Arborio rice is most widely available, but another good choice for a risotto dish is Carnaroli. It will result in a creamier dish with less “bite” or toothiness.
While some may think the stirring process is a bother and takes too long, we think it’s completely worth it. It can actually be the perfect excuse to invite friends and family into the kitchen and all take a turn stirring and making this flavorful and creamy dish!
Here are some of our favorite risotto recipes: