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Risotto


TheNoodleIncident
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Does anyone have an opinion on this article for "easier" risotto? I'm not saying that risotto is hard, but if this method works, I figure why not? Possibly more importantly, he also claims to achieve better consistency and flavor. I'm surely no risotto expert, but this seems to be based on a fair amount of science and logic. I plan on trying it soon.

http://www.seriouseats.com/2011/10/the-food-lab-the-science-of-risotto.html?ref=carousel

(Also be sure to click the "Get the Recipe" button for more specifics)

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This seems akin in logic to the 'less water' when boiling for pasta to reinforce or saturate the starch.

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So the experiments seem to result in a final general method of rinsing the rice with the liquid to be used in the dish such that the starch is in the liquid. The rinsed rice is then toasted in the fat, and the starchy liquid added all at once. Only one stir of the pot occurs. The pot should be more of a skillet than a saucepan so that all the rice is getting the same heat, even with the liquid added all at once. Has anyone tried this?

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Interesting, but I'm with a number of the people who commented. Cream in Risotto? Properly cooked risotto is more than creamy enough by itself. Adding cream can only be needed to cover up a fault in the preparation.

Having tried many risottos in restaurants and inevitably being very disappointed, I always wonder what baseline people use for taste tests for this dish.

I look forward to people trying this independently and seeing if it does produce a good version.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

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I haven't tried this, but I probably won't. That's mainly because it's more work than making risotto the way I do it now.

Adding cream to risotto is unnecessary and that much (3/4 cup) will change it into something that might not resemble risotto enough for me. But my main problem with it is the extra steps: beating the cream to stiff peaks and rinsing the rice first creates unnecessary work and dishes.

The way I do it now is efficient enough. The labor intensive part is making sure that there's enough moisture in the pan, but that's really not that hard. I don't stand over the pan the entire time; I just check it every couple of minutes and add stock when I need to. Since I'm cooking, and in the kitchen, it's not a hardship to check the pan and ladle some stock in. The trick is knowing when enough's enough. Also, I don't think you have to stir constantly. I stir to incorporate the stock, then when I'm finishing the rice, I stir hard the last two minutes or so to whip up the starch in the rice et voila. It's not that hard. This recipe seems harder.

I do it another way too that's even easier. I saw Lidia Bastianich one time make this easier version. You take all your ingredients and use a dutch oven, sweat onions carrots celery chopped very small (I use a food processor), toast the rice, add the wine and cook down, then add cut up boneless chicken and almost all the stock in and let it simmer covered for around 20 minutes. Then a little more stock and some cheese, give it a good stir stir stir, and it's done. Almost as good as making risotto: I don't think I'd be able to tell the difference unless I already knew.

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Interesting, but I'm with a number of the people who commented. Cream in Risotto? Properly cooked risotto is more than creamy enough by itself. Adding cream can only be needed to cover up a fault in the preparation.

Call me a Philistine, but I support freedom of ingredients based on the inequality of the concepts 'Creamy' (textural) and 'With Cream' (taste and texture). And if adding cream can cover up a fault, where is the fault (other than perhaps more fat than is necessary)? If I can choose to put fresh peas in my risotto, why not cream?

Having tried many risottos in restaurants and inevitably being very disappointed, I always wonder what baseline people use for taste tests for this dish.

This sentiment leaves me very skeptical of the traditional dogma. Previously, I had only suspicions. But having never had a risotto not made by me, I can't be a judge. So I'll also be curious as to whether it passes muster with risotto afficianados.

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I wasn't taken by the recipe - creamy texture is not the same as adding cream, it's a different mouthfeel and taste, the 'sauce' of a risotto is supposed to be the starch thickened stock, wine and butter. Adding cream will change that balance.

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The way I do it now is efficient enough. The labor intensive part is making sure that there's enough moisture in the pan, but that's really not that hard. I don't stand over the pan the entire time; I just check it every couple of minutes and add stock when I need to...

That's how I make it now, in a skillet for easier evaporation. I first learned the classic method which requires constant stirring. It was such a bore that I never made risotto. Then later, in two different cooking demos, I observed the chefs do other cooking in the kitchen, and only give the pot a stir when it seemed to need it. Aha!

...And if adding cream can cover up a fault, where is the fault (other than perhaps more fat than is necessary)? If I can choose to put fresh peas in my risotto, why not cream?

I don't think cream is traditional but I wouldn't be offended if someone put it in. I'd even eat it if you put a plateful in front of me. However, traditional risotto is not about cheese, cream, or even rice--at least as I understand it. It's about showcasing great homemade chicken stock. Vincent Schiavelli, in his memoir-cookbook Papa Andrea's Sicilian Table, tells the wonderful story of his grandfather looking out at a gray, rainy morning, and saying, "Today I will make risotto." His grandfather's first step in making risotto was to hustle to the market for a fresh chicken for the broth.

Papa Andrea's non-traditional recipe for risotto included two beaten eggs stirred in at the end of cooking time. I've tried it, and it does make the risotto richer. But I prefer non-egg risotto myself.

Joanne Weir teaches a risotto-cooking method that involves one last ladleful of stock, then letting the mixture sit off the heat, covered, for 5 mins before service. I've had mixed results with this method (sometimes I've wondered, Why bother?). I'll throw it out there as another variation on cooking risotto: http://www.joanneweir.com/recipes/mains/risotto-with-zinfandel-and-radicchio.html

I suspect the let-it-sit method works better with carnaroli or vialone nano rices, which I find tougher and chewier than arborio, and less inclined to mushiness. BTW, I've tried that zinfindel-radicchio risotto, it's unusual and showy (with that reddish color) and tasty too.

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While the conversation here has focused on the cream added, that seemed like the least important part of this article. Not to mention that he discussed at length what he did to maximize the creaminess of the texture *before* adding any cream. I was amazed at the difference (see the photos) between the batches of risotto produced with toasting vs. not-toasting, and thought his solution of rinsing the rice in the broth prior to toasting it in butter is quite ingenious -- and at the least worth a try.

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I was disturbed by the 'stirring doesn't matter' yet insistence that, when rinsing, stirring was required. It seems stirring is required, but can be front loaded instead of during cooking. So the stirring thing appears to not be a myth.

It was an interesting article, but I questioned the opening assertion that clumping was a monster no-no, and all his shows of outcomes were different then what I was used to. I was also disappointed that he passed on the pressure cooking techniques, or hybrid techniques such as in MC with par cooking more or less straight-forwardly and then finishing more risotto style.

But, it was thought provoking and will mean I will cook risotto soon, so it was still a success!

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I say it if works for him and he is satisfied with the end product , good on him.. I know I won't bother trying it though, I know what I like and that is not it. I think I fit into that hardline italian group he is talking about though. LOL I was eating risotto before I could speak, and had it at least once a week the first 20 odd years of my life . Changing now is just really not an option.

I do agree with him about the importance of mantecare and all'onda though. (although he says it is a flat disk you can actualy see the wavyness in his picture) To my mind they are much more important than al'dente even. If you get all three optimally and hit the triple crown it is a beautiful thing.

I will have to respectfully disagree with the earlier poster who said it isn't about the rice. It is most definitely about the rice, proper chicken stock elevates it, but if you can't taste the rice it is pointless. The name of the dish is risotto after all, riso=italian for rice.

I never eat risotto at restuarants, so few even come close to doing it to my liking. Even if they did somehow get the triple crown, there is generally that last hurdle . Most chefs these days just can't leave it alone. IMO a risotto should have no more than two ( 3 max if they really compliment each other) strong flavours to it , and they shouldn't overpower the rice . Instead they can't help themselves and you get monstrosities like port reduction braised oxtail ,portabello mushroom, gorgonzola risotto, topped with toasted pistachio gremolata. The mangiacakes love it I am sure. :P

Edited by Ashen (log)

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Cream is just unsalted liquid butter. Risotto 'creaminess' is starch, stock, butter.

Cream therefore is just reformated stock & butter, and not a crime, if not traditional.

I am wary of setting as the arbiter of standards people who say 'the only good risotto I've ever eaten is my own.' Those recipes tend to be ... unique, rather than exemplars of perfection.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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I agree that people are focusing too much on the cream. He even states (in the comments) that part is up to you based on your personal taste. "It tastes better to me. If people don't like it... just don't do it :)"

The Food Lab often looks at approaches towards things that are new or at the very least not well known. Adding cream to risotto is not that (though whipping it may be for some).

The focus of this article is everything else he says. Mainly, the details about how starch plays a role and how toasting plays a role. He shows that under traditional methods, those two parts fight against each other for two ideal qualities of risotto. Creaminess and that nutty flavor. The whole focus of this article is showing that by washing the starch off the rice into the stock you are using, and then toasting the rice, you can easily achieve the best of both worlds. You can get something creamy, while at the same time having that nutty flavor. This method is also less susceptible to error as traditional ones (as is another common theme in his articles/recipes).

I've traditionally made decent risotto using hot stock while constantly adding it piece by piece and doing a fair amount of stirring. It's come out tasty, but not with the correct texture. I look forward to trying this approach, as I feel like using the same ingredients it will still taste the same, but by washing the rice with my stock and throwing it in all at once I can get that better texture with less effort in a more consistent way. Hopefully at least. I'll be trying it tonight with pumpkin risotto.

Too me this is like the issue with doing duck confit completely in duck fat. Yes, that's how most people do it. Yes there are plenty of really talented chefs who swear by it, yet Nathan and the MC team have shown it's not necessary and doesn't have any noticeable benefit to the end product. Does that mean people can still do it that way? Of course. Does it mean I will? Nope. If I can make my cooking more efficient and consistent then I will. But to each his (or her) own.

Edited by Phaz (log)
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Veeeeery interesting. How about I try this out today? I often do risotto for dinners and this could lead to something great. I'm against adding cream though.

Results to follow, I have a lot of time on my hands in the kitchen as I have to wait from 3-7 for the people to come and install my new dishwasher...

Sleep, bike, cook, feed, repeat...

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I couldn't find the article, but I seem to recall that there's a very well regarded risotto restaurant which does the first half of the cooking without stirring (putting in a large amount of hot stock at once and letting it cook down), and then finishes it the normal way.

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Another interesting option is Ideas in Food 6 minute risotto. They pre-soak the rice to hydrate the starch, strain, toast and finish with stock in a pan last minute to gelatinize the rice, so it is ready for service.

In the original rendition they soaked in one liquid and cooked in another, but I tend to use my soaking liquid as the cooking liquid to utilize as much starch as possible. With this method I have made extremely creamy risottos and less creamy ones depending on my mood, application and rice varietal.

Obviously, there are many similarities between the two techniques, but the Ideas in Food version saves cook time which is great for service. The biggest problem I have found with this technique is that the short cook doesn't allow as much concentration of the stock flavors. If using the 6 minute technique, I tend to start with extremely concentrated stocks to prevent this from happening.

Their original post: http://blog.ideasinfood.com/ideas_in_food/2010/12/6-minute-risotto.html

My rendition (this version was a slightly less creamy, more liquid in the final cook changes the end consistency): http://www.consumedgourmet.com/2011/07/risotto.html

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However, traditional risotto is not about cheese, cream, or even rice--at least as I understand it. It's about showcasing great homemade chicken stock.

Not sure if I would agree with that. For us it is definitely not about the chicken stock. Actually we normally dilute the stock we are using quite a lot so that you hardly taste anything from the stock in the final risotto. Risotto for us is about the rice and any additional flavoring components we add to the risotto, e.g. asparagus, dried porcini etc.

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So I made Kenji's risotto tonight -- and it worked quite well! And I even -- gasp -- added a splash of light cream, since I had some in the fridge. My only thought is that the wine taste was too strong for me, since it doesn't boil off early as in a traditional risotto recipe, but instead gets mixed with the stock that the rice is soaked in. Next time I'd keep the wine out and add that first, boiling it off, and then add the stock and cover. I was amazed -- very creamy, and essentially no stirring. I actually walked off, answered some emails, came back, stirred once in the middle, and then walked off again...

Emily

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Well then, beat me to it! Still planning on it, just backed up with other prep.

I always use some wine in mine but a cup seems a little much. I always add a splash after the toasting stage and already had plans to cut it down to 1/2 a cup in this recipe...

Because of the nature of my dinners I cook almost everything ahead of time. Like a lot of restaurants I'll cook the risotto to 80% and cool fast on a sheet tray in the fridge. Finishing later with the final ingredients. I'm going to take some to 80% and reheat and cook the rest all the way.

Sleep, bike, cook, feed, repeat...

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Scotty - my guess is that you can take it all the way to just before he says to add the last cup of stock... After I walking away and coming back to it at that point, it was sticking to the pan a little and didn't look all that creamy, but when I added the last bit of stock and stirred, that's when the creaminess really came out. Also -- the recipe didn't call for added salt, and I thought it really needed it -- I'd add at least a little as you go...

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Thanks for the tips. As always I can't really follow the recipe exactly, more interested in the technique. It will be awesome if the whole "making the stock with starch from the rice" things works. Just means I don't have to babysit it as much as I usually do while I multitask.

Gonna fire up the camera and the stove in a bit.

Sleep, bike, cook, feed, repeat...

Chef Facebook HQ Menlo Park, CA

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