Ris-Ah-Toe: A Basic Risotto Recipe

Ok.  Now that everyone can make a basic white rice pilaf.  It’s time to tackle Risotto.  Besides the ingredients listed below, you should also have a heatproof rubber spatula and a wide fairly shallow pot.  It should be easy to get in the corners of this pot because you will be cooking at times with very little liquid and you need to keep all the rice moving.  You also want to distribute the heat over the risotto mixture evenly, so that it cooks without constant stirring.  The rubber spatula will be the gentlest on the delicate rice grains and will help you to not break them into mush.

The principle here is to force each grain to absorb a lot of liquid without creating a sticky, starchy, gloppy plop of grain but, rather, a toothsome ooze of separate rice grains in a creamy suspension.  It’s a lot harder than it looks.

First you MUST use the correct rice: aborio or carnaroli.

There's RICE (left)and then there's Risotto Rice(right)

There’s RICE (left) and then there’s Risotto Rice (right)

Both will slowly release their high starch content as they cook and have the ability to absorb a great deal of liquid before breaking down.  You can’t make a real risotto with any other rice.  It is ideal to heat the liquid before you add it so that it is a similar temperature to the rice mixture in the pot.  This helps to not lower the temperature of the ingredients in the pot each time you add liquid and creates a better, more consistent outcome.  This “cook-add liquid-cook-add liquid”, etc. is called Risotto Technique and is a unique method to cook a grain and you may see it called for with other grain recipes.


  • 5 cups chicken broth (low salt if possible), HEATED
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, HEATED
  • 3 TBL butter, divided
  • 1 TBL minced fresh garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio (risotto) rice
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan


The Set Up

The Set Up

1.  Have all your ingredients prepped and ready.

2.  Take a breath and focus.

3.  Warm the broth and wine in the microwave.  You can warm them in separate containers or combine them.  Be aware if you combine them, you may lose some of the “winey” taste in the finished risotto, since you may not use all the liquid.

4.  Melt 2 TBL. of butter in the pan over medium-hi heat and add the onion, garlic and crushed red pepper.

5.  Sauté the mixture until onion is a very pale golden, about 4 minutes.  Turn down the heat if you need to, but make sure the onion is soft and a very light gold-be careful not to burn the garlic!

Sweating the Aromatics...not charred bits!

Sweating the Aromatics…not charred bits!

6.  Add rice and stir to coat and toast- about 2 minutes.  You are trying to coat each rice grain with the butter-it helps the rice stay separate while cooking.

7.  Add 1-2 cups of the broth mixture (or if you did not combine the two, add the wine first plus some broth) and bring to a GENTLE simmer, stirring gently and carefully until that liquid is absorbed.  Remember you are trying to encourage the rice to take in a lot of liquid.  It must be treated gently, not harshly-either in temperature or stirring.  A low blurpy bubble is what you are after, not a boil.  It does not have to be stirred constantly-I use a folding motion, actually-but it has to be watched so that more liquid can be added when the previous addition has been absorbed.  DON’T WALK AWAY!!!   

First Liquid Addition...Blurpy Simmer Upper Right

First Liquid Addition…Blurpy Simmer Upper Right

Time To Add The Next Liquid

Time To Add The Next Liquid

8.  Continue adding the broth mixture 1/2 cup at a time, gently stirring often and simmering until the liquid is almost completely absorbed before adding more.  This process will take about 20 minutes.  Taste the Risotto several times as you work through adding the liquid.  The Risotto should be “al dente” or “firm to the tooth”-not hard, but not really soft or mushy.  You may not need to add all the liquid.  You must go by look, feel and the “bite”. I like to stop cooking my Risotto at a fairly “soupy” stage, as it will firm up as it cools and the cheese will bind it as well.  It is also a good idea to hold back about 1/4 C of liquid (or keep a bit extra on the side), so if you need to “save” the risotto from being too stiff, you can.

9.  Add cheese, 1TBL remaining butter and cream. Fold together.

10.  Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to warmed plates and serve immediately.  Risotto does not hold easily-it thickens upon sitting-kind of like oatmeal, so this should be made and served at the very last minute.  You can loosen it slightly by adding a couple of tablespoons of broth at the end, but this only works once. You can add lots of tasty things at the end, just like regular rice-sautéed veggies, toasted nuts, cooked proteins, etc.

Have fun and keep practicing.  This is a real chef’s skill to have!

Perfect Risotto Texture and Fluency

Perfect Risotto Texture and Fluency

Tags: , , , ,

Categories: Cooking Techniques, Sides


Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: