Risotto is a classic Italian dish that is light, naturally creamy, and full of flavor. It is a labor of love that requires patience and proper technique to be made correctly.
Risotto is a classic dish that is made with white arborio rice cooked in a hot liquid or broth. It's naturally creamy because of the starch that gets released from the rice kernels. Don't be fooled by recipes claiming 'quick and easy risotto', true Italian risotto cannot be rushed or faked, it takes at least 30 minutes to make and requires your constant attention!
Ingredients for Italian Risotto:
- White Arborio rice: Arborio rice is an Italian variety of short-grain rice with kernels that are fatter and shorter than other short-grained rice. It contains a high amount of starch that gets released during the cooking process, which is what gives risotto its naturally creamy texture. Do not rinse the rice.
- Hot liquid or broth: You can use water, broth, or stock to make risotto. Using a broth such as chicken or vegetable broth is typically preferred because it imparts the most flavor.
- Butter: Butter is ideal for the best flavor, but any type of fat will work. You want to use enough butter to coat all of the kernels of the rice. About 2 tablespoons for every 1 cup of rice.
- Aromatics: Aromatics such as chopped shallots or onions add great flavor.
- Salt: Essential for flavor. Be sure to adjust the amount of seasoning depending on the type of cooking liquid you use.
- White wine: A dry white wine that is not too sweet adds flavor, acidity, and balance.
- More butter: When the risotto is done cooking, add in about a tablespoon more butter and cook until melted.
- Parmesan cheese: Optional, top with shaved parmesan, romano, or asiago cheese right before serving.
How to Make Italian Risotto:
- Add your broth to a large pot and keep at a gentle simmer separate from the pan you are making the risotto in. You will need at least 3 cups of broth for every 1 cup of rice. Start with more than you need because some of it will evaporate out.
- In a separate saucepan, melt the butter. Add in the chopped shallots or onions and cook and stir until soft. Be sure to stir often so they don't brown. Next, add in the unrinsed white arborio rice. Cook and stir until it is all coated with the butter, do not brown.
- Add in the white wine and cook until the liquid is completely reduced out.
Ladle in 1 cup of your hot broth. Cook, stirring constantly until all of the broth is absorbed. Ladle in more broth, 1 cup at a time, and stir constantly until it is all absorbed. Repeat this process until the desired consistency is reached. The risotto should be cooked to al dente, meaning soft with a slight bite.
Stir in another tablespoon of butter and top with shaved parmesan, romano, or asiago cheese. Serve immediately.
How to Make Risotto Ahead of Time:
Risotto needs to be served right away once it's finished cooking. This is because as it sits, the rice grains start to absorb more moisture, making it go from perfectly al dente to mush. It takes at least 30 minutes to make risotto, so how are Italian restaurants able to get perfectly cooked, made to order risotto onto your table in just 10 minutes?
There is an easy, simple trick that allows you to par-cook the risotto, and then finish it off quickly when you're ready to serve it.
Cook the risotto until it is about 50 to 75% of the way done cooking. It should be just starting to get tender but still have a raw bite to it. Then, transfer it to a sheet pan and spread it out into a thin even layer. Once cooled, keep the pan in the refrigerator until you're ready to finish cooking it. You can even keep it in the fridge at this stage for up to a week. Which makes it perfect for easy weeknight meal prep. When you're ready to serve the risotto, simply add it back to the saucepan with a little butter and continue adding hot broth until it is perfectly al dente.
- 1 cup white Arborio rice, do not rinse
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 2 medium shallots (or ½ medium onion), chopped
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ cup dry white wine, optional
- 3-4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp. butter
- shaved parmesan, romano, or asiago cheese, for topping, optional
- In a large pot, heat your broth and keep at a gentle simmer separate from the pan you are making the risotto in.
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter and add the chopped shallots or onion and the salt. Cook, stirring constantly until soft. About 2 minutes.
- Add in the unrinsed Arborio rice and cook until coated with the butter. Do not brown.
- Add in the dry white wine, if using, and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is fully reduced and cooked out.
- Add in 1 cup of the hot broth and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add another cup of broth and keep stirring constantly until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this process until the desired consistency is reached. The risotto should be cooked to al dente. Mostly soft with a slite bite to it.
- Add in 1 tablespoon of butter and cook until melted. Serve topped with shaved parmesan, asiago, or romano cheese, if desired.
- Serve risotto warm immediately.*