Want to make the best risotto? Risottos sometimes get a bad rap, billed as being time consuming, labour intensive and prone to disaster (no-one likes gluey, over-cooked rice). The reality, however, is far more straightforward. Follow expert tips from our test kitchen to get the perfect risotto every time.
How to make risotto
Which rice do you use for risotto?
Risottos needs a rice high in starch for that essential creamy finish. The two main types used are carnaroli and arborio – both short grains that contain lots of starch and keep their shape and texture once cooked.
Why do you need to stir risotto?
It’s important to stir and agitate the risotto all the way through cooking. The grains rubbing against each other release starch into the sauce, which creates a molten creaminess. It’s best to use a wide, deep frying or sauté pan for this as it means you can keep the rice moving and the wide surface gives the liquid a chance to evaporate evenly.
What temperature is best to cook risotto?
You want to keep everything at a relatively similar temperature when cooking risotto. Coating the rice in oil and frying for a few minutes brings it up to the right temperature quickly, and adding hot stock gradually means the grains cook evenly, keeping their shape without the outside breaking down before the centre is cooked.
Why do you add wine to risotto?
A splash of wine may be something that feels easy to leave out but it will make all the difference to the finished dish. The acidity in the wine will help cut through the richness of the umami-rich stock, starchy rice, parmesan and butter.
Does it matter which stock you use?
The stock is one of the main elements that flavours the risotto. Use the best quality you can, homemade if possible.
Do you need to taste risotto?
It’s important to taste the rice throughout cooking as the rice can easily overcook, and the only way to tell when it’s perfect is by eating some! Use a clean spoon each time you taste for hygiene purposes.
Which toppings should you use?
The classic way to finish risotto is by beating in butter and parmesan (a technique known as mantecare in Italian). The addition of dairy at the end will add richness and bring together all of the flavours, mellowing everything and helping to thicken it slightly. Leave for a few minutes with a lid on to rest before serving.
- extra-virgin olive oil 3 tbsp
- fennel 1 bulb, finely chopped
- garlic 2 cloves, thinly sliced
- fennel seeds ½ tsp
- tomato purée 2 tsp
- carnaroli or arborio rice 200g
- white wine 150ml
- fish or light chicken stock 1.2 litres
- cherry tomatoes 150g, halved
- mussels or clams 150g
- squid 1 cleaned hood, cut into 1cm rings
- raw peeled prawns 150g, butterflied
- parmesan 75g, finely grated
- butter a good knob
- lemon a squeeze of juice, plus wedges to serve
- flat-leaf parsley a small handful
Try more risotto recipes...
- Kcals 671
- Fat 23.5g
- Saturates 8.3g
- Carbs 59.8g
- Sugars 5g
- Fibre 4.4g
- Protein 44.7g
- Salt 3.6g