Don't Make This Common Mistake With Risotto

If you're looking to expand your palate, and work on those newfound cooking skills, risotto might be the perfect dish for you. Known for its creamy texture, packed with savory flavors you typically enjoy with pasta, risotto is an Italian rice dish traditionally made with onion, white wine, stock, parmesan cheese, and arborio rice (though if you can find it, carnaroli rice yields the best results). However, despite a deceivingly simple list of ingredients, cooking risotto isn't as easy as it seems. Risotto requires extra attention, but without the proper timing, it can look and taste pretty inedible (so much for an attempt at a romantic dinner).

The dish typically requires a quick toasting and good amount of stirring, but too much of either of these steps can lead to some disappointing results, according to Food & WineThe outlet spoke with Chef Antonio Salvatore, a 2016 San Pellegrino Young Chef finalist who hails from southern Italy, on what it takes to whip up the perfect risotto.

Timing is key when cooking risotto

According to Salvatore, there are a few mistakes you can make when following a recipe for the classic Italian dish. Start at the grocery store. Don't use long grain or sushi grain rice for risotto, he advises. (His favorite: the carnaroli rice we mentioned earlier.) Another mistake to avoid: When getting started, you should toast the rice for no longer than a minute with either oil or butter. The rice should have a toasty golden color before you add any wine into the pot. 

Another important tip Salvatore reflects on is over-stirring. "Don't stress about constantly stirring risotto," Salvatore told Food & Wine. "It's much better to stir once every 30 seconds and trust the cooking process to do its thing." Over-stirring can ultimately ruin the risotto's texture, but if you don't stir enough, the rice will stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.

Overall, risotto should take 20 minutes to cook, Salvatore told the outlet. More specifically, Salvatore spends exactly 16 minutes focusing just on feeding risotto with stock or water, and eyeing the rice while it simmers to make sure that the liquid is slowly plumping up the grains rather than drying them out. So the next time you're craving a cooking challenge, it's important to remember that when cooking risotto, timing is everything.