The One Rule You Need To Follow For Perfect Risotto

The water cooler of the cooking world hasn't been kind to your friendly neighborhood risotto. Made from Arborio rice, slowly stirred as liquids are repeatedly added and absorbed (according to NPR), rumors around risotto being difficult to prepare have swirled around food pages like Chowhound for years; but is it really true or just more gossip mill misinformation?

Surprisingly, the challenge of making a good risotto isn't actually in the complexity of its cooking steps or the skills required of the chef. The one thing you absolutely cannot forget, according to Rocco DiSpirito, is that risotto requires consistency and attention. DiSpirito likens the preparation of the dish to caring for a newborn baby, citing the level of focus necessary to achieve the results a cook wants when making risotto. According to Food & Wine, DiSpirito demonstrated the care necessary to create creamy risotto in front of a live audience at the Sun Food and Wine Festival. He kept his assistant busy — the volunteer from the audience never left the risotto and constantly stirred while also adding more liquid. 

How to create creamy risotto

Many home chefs are used to taking on multiple tasks at once, but that proves challenging when making risotto. DiSpirito explained during his demonstration that in order to get that creamy consistency in risotto you are literally beating the starch out of the rice so that it combines with the liquid in order to achieve a velvety texture. 

A newer chef might ask, "But do I really have to constantly stir?" It certainly seems that someone who regards risotto in such a way as to compare its preparation to the care of a newborn would answer with a hearty "yes." Follow this one rule from DiSpirito, and it would seem you're guaranteed amazing risotto results.

It doesn't seem wise to stray from the advice of a chef whose restaurant, Union Pacific, earned three stars from "New York Times" acclaimed restaurant critic, Ruth Reichl. However, rules were made to be broken and there are a few suggestions out there for reducing time spent stirring. 

Ina Garten's risotto hack keeps cooks from standing in front of the stove. Alternatively, you can make an Instant Pot risotto which drastically dials down the amount of effort necessary to transform arborio rice into risotto. Finally, there are some who will say that you can make risotto in a microwave

While you can prepare risotto in untraditional ways, it's probably safe to assume that DiSpirito's advice to make your risotto prep a labor of love will end with restaurant quality results. If you're still looking for timesavers, though, Geoffrey Zakarian has risotto techniques to try.