Unlike the fluffy, separate grains of long-grain rice popular in Asian, Indian, and American cuisines, risotto is a creamy, rich, and decadent recipe with a unique type of rice and cooking methodology. Risotto calls for arborio rice, a type of short-grain rice with a higher volume of starch to aid in the creaminess of the final product. The demanding process to achieve the delicate balance between saucy yet al dente texture involves adding hot stock to risotto slowly and in measured batches, constantly stirring until the rice absorbs all of the liquid before adding the next batch.
The temperature of the stock is as crucial to successful execution as adding it in increments. Therefore, before you begin adding your stock to the rice, heat it in a pot on the burner next to the rice pan until it's steaming. Keep it over low heat as you ladle it little by little into the risotto.
While risotto is an open-pan cooking method, it still requires heat to evaporate the cooking liquid so that the rice can properly absorb it. Heat and agitation are also important factors to help the rice release its starches and thicken into the creamy sauce. The stock needs to reach a simmer immediately upon contact with the rice in the saucepan. If you add cold stock, you'll stall the rate of absorption and hinder the release of starch, resulting in overcooked, mushy rice and a watery or thinned sauce.
Read more: 21 Delicious Ways To Use Up Leftover Rice
More Risotto Tips And Stock Enhancements
Not only will heating the stock ensure the right cooking temperature needed to effectively cook the rice and enrich your risotto's texture but it'll also enhance its taste. Heating stock helps bloom its flavors, which will in turn make for more fragrant and tasty risotto. You can enhance store-bought stock's flavor by adding dried ingredients like shrimp shells, dried mushrooms, whole spices, or a dash of soy or fish sauce. The heat will leech the umami notes from these additions into the stock while simultaneously preparing it for the cooking process.
Before adding the stock, begin building a flavorful foundation with fried aromatics. Risotto recipes begin like a typical pilaf recipe, frying onions or leeks until translucent and fragrant before adding the rice and toasting it in the aromatic saute. The rice will turn a caramel or brown color, signaling it's ready to start adding the stock.
Toasting rice not only adds a wonderful nuttiness but also creates a barrier for each rice grain that slows its rate of absorption. Since you're making rice in a shallow, uncovered pan, slower absorption prevents undercooked or scorched risotto. While the starches alone are enough to impart a creamy consistency, a splash of heavy cream and cheese will bring your risotto to decadent heights while also layering on savory dairy notes. You should add dairy once the last bit of stock has been absorbed by the rice and you've removed the pan from the hot burner.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.