Geoffrey Zakarian Swears By This Risotto Technique

When done right, risotto is a creamy, dreamy dish that is the perfect comfort food for any time of the year. You can add in heartier flavors such as earthy mushroom for cooler seasons, and in the summer, brighten up the decadent mixture with things like fresh herbs, seasonal vegetables, and citrus. Cookbook author and television personality Nigella Lawson has a lemon risotto recipe that is the perfect summer comfort food (via Nigella).

However, many are intimidated by the dish because it takes a fair amount of stirring and lingering around the stovetop as you incorporate the liquid slowly — but there are a few tips that can help you craft the perfect risotto. Chef and television personality Geoffrey Zakarian has quite a few tips for the classic dish, but the most important has to do with the liquid you're incorporating. Zakarian advises starting with hot stock when you're making risotto, regardless of what type of stock you're using (via Food Network). You may have seen this tip in other risotto recipes and ignored it, seeing it as an unnecessary step, but the heat within the stock will help maintain the starch content in your rice, which is key to a successful risotto. The measurements as you add in your heated stock to the risotto mixture aren't important, according to Zakarian. As long as your liquid is completely covering the rice in the pan, and the mixture is at a gentle simmer, you should be all set.

Additional tips for a foolproof risotto

Geoffrey Zakarian revealed several additional tips to Food Network that you may want to consider before whipping up your very first risotto (or revisiting the dish after a disastrous past attempt). The heated stock is one of the key elements, but when you're incorporating alcoholic liquids such as white wine, a common ingredient in many risotto recipes, you want to allow the wine time to reduce. You also want to avoid a pan in which your risotto is all cramped together, as it could impact the cooking process. It doesn't matter if you select a deep pot or a wide, shallow pan, as long as you have enough space for the rice and the heated stock to mesh and create that dreamy texture. 

When it comes to your recipe, it's important to keep it simple until later on in the process. That means you want to wait until the end to mix in additions such as vegetables, as having those large pieces within your risotto mixture could affect the cooking process, making it difficult to stir everything and allow the rice and stock to truly meld together. Finally, while the cook time for risotto recipes varies, you likely don't need to be at the stovetop for two hours. While the time it takes will depend on the amount of risotto you're making, as a rule of thumb, Zakarian's suggestion is just 17 ½ minutes, as he cautions overcooking can lead to a gummy texture.