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 The Spruce Eats, is that risotto requires consistency and attention. "Risotto takes a while to cook properly, and it requires your attention as well as your time. For upward of 20 minutes, you have one job and one job only: Stir the rice while adding hot stock, a ladleful at a time, and cook the rice slowly so that the stock is absorbed," the outlet explains. 

Taking on risotto multitasking

Many home chefs are used to taking on multiple tasks at once, but that proves challenging when making risotto. The Spruce Eats explains, "The technique [of constantly stirring] is called the risotto method. It releases the rice's starches, producing a creamy, velvety dish, and it takes two hands: one for stirring and one for ladling." The outlet warns to not attempt to multitask anything more complex than having a conversation while making risotto, especially if you're inexperienced.

A newer chef might ask, "But do I really have to constantly stir? And for how long?" While opinions differ, the generally accepted answer seems to be that you might be able to get away with less than vigorous stirring, as long as you pay attention. "Don't stress about constantly stirring risotto," said Antonio Salvatore, chef of Monte-Carlo's Rampoldi to Food & Wine. "It's much better to stir once every 30 seconds and trust the cooking process to do its thing." NPR agrees, stating "It's debatable whether continuous stirring is necessary. Some risotto purists insist on it. If, however, you don't like stirring constantly, rest assured that occasional stirring still results in wonderfully creamy risotto." 

No matter how much elbow grease you put into it, the resulting creamy, savory rice goodness makes the sore arm worthwhile.