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My mother was visiting a friend in Venice, and they were making risotto. The friend asked my mother to stir for a minute, and my mother took over. The woman stopped her immediately, and told her to only stir in ONE direction, as stirring in different directions will ruin it. I've never heard of this before, and neither has anyone I've asked. Any idea where this has come from?

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I have also heard from a Venetian chef I saw on Martha Stewart that you should stir from the inside out in one direction, as not to break the grains, with a wooden spoon.

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Plotnicki has written a number of times that there is a right way to stir risotto, but he's never let out the secret.

from the inside out in one direction, as not to break the grains, with a wooden spoon.

Does this mean that the spoon should only go from the center of the clock to, say, 9?


Edited by Stone (log)

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I think you can go from the center of the clock to 9, 6 and 3... that's at least how I do it. But I won't pretend to be an expert. I think the idea is to be consisent...and gentle with the arborio.

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I have an Italian friend who doesn't even stir his risotto. He simply gives the pan a good flip every minute or two. I can't see or taste the difference and think that much depends on how Grandma used to stir her version.

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This is where the pressure cooker really shows off its stuff. Risotto takes 7 minutes at high pressure.

No stirring... And the right "chew" remains perfectly intact.

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I don't think direction has much to do with it; keeping it moving and being gentle and careful not to mash the grains of rice does, at least in my personal experience.

:wink:


Me, I vote for the joyride every time.

-- 2/19/2004

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Well you do have to be careful that you only stir clockwise when using right handed grains of rice. Stir clockwise using left handed rice and you will end up with too many broken grains.

Depends if you are in the northern or the southern hemisphere. If south of the equator reverse the direction of stir.

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Well you do have to be careful that you only stir clockwise when using right handed grains of rice. Stir clockwise using left handed rice and you will end up with too many broken grains.

You're kiddin' right? When Alfred Portale was quizzed on this subject he pretty much laughed the idea off. And he's supposed be a proponent of the perfect risotto.....

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Well you do have to be careful that you only stir clockwise when using right handed grains of rice. Stir clockwise using left handed rice and you will end up with too many broken grains.

Depends if you are in the northern or the southern hemisphere. If south of the equator reverse the direction of stir.

Ah, a common mistake. Yes the 'handedness' of a rice grain is subject to the Coriolis effect [actually, the spiral handness of developing rice plant flower-head is subject to the Coriolis effect, but the rice grains are indirectly inlfuenced, obviously], but most risotto rice is still grown in the Northen hemisphere and it is the rice place of growth that is important, not where you stir the cooking rice.

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They're called stereoisomers. The right-handedness or left-handedness depends on the initial genetic structure of the rice and the way the DNA helix twists. Usually producers don't go through the trouble of separating them -- you need large magnets and things that go zzzziiiiPPPP! But the top producers or Caranale and arborio rice will designate right v. left. Right handed rices have a chewier texture, and are better with meatier additions (meat, mushrooms, etc.). Left-handed rices are more delicate and should be used in simpler preparations -- just the addition of herbs.

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You can read about it here. It's also called "chirality" or something like that. I'll find the rice articles.

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When I clicked on this thread I had hoped for an enlightening discussion of Risotto. And indeed I have found it amazing.

Now, do I need to use a right-handed pan with right-handed rice, or are the physics such that I need a left-handed pan for that?

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If George Foreman would only create a rotating, no stir necessary, lean mean risotto pan machine, we could avoid all this controversy.

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Hmm.. that isn't a bad idea! It could use a rotating, heated cylinder, with a compartment on top holding the hot liquid/broth and have it automatically dispense small amounts into the stirring rice underneath.

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Now, do I need to use a right-handed pan with right-handed rice, or are the physics such that I need a left-handed pan for that?

If the above is related to coriolis accelaration, it would depend whether on a) what direction you are stirring in and b) whether you are located north or south of the equator....


Edited by Wimpy (log)

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I have an Italian friend who doesn't even stir his risotto. He simply gives the pan a good flip every minute or two. I can't see or taste the difference and think that much depends on how Grandma used to stir her version.

You have to stir risotto or it is not risotto - just boiled rice. I have seen lots of Italian do this - but only ones who really don't know how to cook or those making dishes not traditional in their area. Unless you lived in Lombardia, Piemonte, or Friuli Venezia Giulia grandma probably did not make risotto very often - if at all.

Young Italians tend to live at home longer than Americans. In many homes the children are not welcome in the kitchen and do not learn to cook until they move away. My father-in-law does almost all the cooking in their home (Lombardia) and does not welcome us into the kitchen to help cook. He has his way and does not want anyone to make the smallest change in his receipe. My wife did not cook a thing until she moved out of the house. Between her father, grandmother and great-grandmother (all great cooks) there was not much reason for her to cook - it was like living in a great restaurant.

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This is where the pressure cooker really shows off its stuff.  Risotto takes 7 minutes at high pressure. 

No stirring...  And the right "chew" remains perfectly intact.

But you lose the psychological benefits of twenty minutes of stirring in the same direction. It’s like repeating a mantra.

I have never done this but find it hard to believe. Can you pass along your recipe so I can give it a shot?

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Hmm.. that isn't a bad idea!  It could use a rotating, heated cylinder, with a compartment on top holding the hot liquid/broth and have it automatically dispense small amounts into the stirring rice underneath.

Can't you just tweak a popcorn machine which has the rotating arm on the bottom? And you could use the butter/steam holes on top for frozen cubes of stock. George Foreman, my eye!

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How are people reheating risotto? Mine always comes out like glue when I try to eat it the next day. I will try putting it in a saucepan with a bunch of stock tonight to loosen it up but do people have other suggestions? One problem is that I'm reheating "finished" risotto with all the cheese and butter added at the end...

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I'm not convinced that there is a good way to reheat risotto. Fortunately, arancini and suppli are an excellent way to repurposing leftover risotto...

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Eternal, just hold back some risotto. Begin by cooking more than you know you'll need and when its about halfway "there", scoop some onto a bakesheet, a couple portions worth, and cool it quickly. You can finish what your cooking in the pan as per usual and reheat the par-cooked with stock the next day. That being said, arancinis are pretty tasty!

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This is where the pressure cooker really shows off its stuff. Risotto takes 7 minutes at high pressure.

This is an attitude I'll never be able to understand. A risotto, cooked traditionally, will take somewhere in the region of 17-20 minutes to cook. Are those 10-13 minutes *that* important? I enjoy cooking, and I suspect you do too! I just don't understand.

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