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Master The Grain | 4 Steps To Making Perfect Risotto At Home

By Penny Kidd - 18 Aug 2014

Heston Blumenthal recently showed Masterchef fans how to make a beetroot risotto with white wine jelly, radish carpaccio, and ripple ice cream.

Now, I don't know about you but that's not how risotto is made in my house!

More often than not, it's a mid-week dish that throws together flavour combinations based on what's in the fridge.

Mushroom and thyme is a staple (with a cheeky dash of truffle oil); bacon, pea and mint is great if you need to work from your freezer; or how about pumpkin, sage and fetta for something different?

Everyone (or nearly everyone) knows the basic formula for risotto — sweat off onions and garlic in oil, add Arborio or Carnaroli rice and coat with the oil, deglaze with white wine, add stock, and flavourings of your choice.

But here are a few golden tips, and some recommendations for the best risottos in Brisbane:

Tip 1 | taking stock

It's worth investing in a good quality stock when making a risotto because it's essentially the base of the dish. Try buying some fresh made stock from a specialty store and make sure you heat the stock in a saucepan before adding to your rice.

Tip 2 | stirring the pot

To stir or not to stir is hotly debated in the cooking world. One side say that stirring the rice releases starch which thickens the risotto and makes it creamier. On the other side of the fence, chefs argue that you should use all the liquid at once and let it sit and absorb undisturbed. There's no consensus here, so perhaps just go with your gut (or see whether you can be bothered standing over a pan and stirring for 30 minutes).

Tip 3 | consistency is everything

This is often where risotto goes wrong. After carefully watching your rice cook and reach the perfect al dente texture, we serve it up in one gluggy mound. Ideally, risotto should be wet enough that it slides around your plate a bit or 'al ondo' (on the wave) as the Italians say. 

Tip 4 | The Mantecatura

Linked to Rule 3, the Mantecatura is the process of adding butter and cheese to the rice as a final stage. This needs to be done once the rice has reached the perfect consistency, and the pan has been taken off the heat.

Check out our the best risottos in Brisbane here

TUL Note: Penny is a freelance food writer and obsessive cook, who has returned to Brisbane after ten years living in the UK and Melbourne. She is currently taking her passion for sweet treats one step further and learning the skills to become a pastry chef from her culinary idols, documenting her experiences through her blog Project Pastry

Image credit: How Sweet Eats

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