Why Risotto Almost Always Fails On Chopped

Anyone who watches "Chopped" knows that one of three things are bound to happen: someone will attempt to make a vinaigrette with 15 seconds left on the clock, make a run for the ice cream machine only to find out it's already being used, or cook risotto.

To viewers at home, cooking risotto might seem like it would be a walk in the park for the professional chefs that compete on "Chopped," but according to host Ted Allen, it's one of the hardest to execute on the show because of the time and attention it requires (via Twitter). After one "Chopped" fan took to Twitter to call out an overambitious contestant who tried to cook risotto in 20 minutes, Allen couldn't help but chime in. "Arborio rice needs near-constant stirring and pretty much the whole 20 minutes to cook," he commented. After witnessing so many risotto fails, Allen says he wouldn't even attempt it if he were in their position. "Even if Aborio were a basket ingredient, I'd think outside the box: Grind to a powder and bread/fry something with it, maybe."

Don't be fooled by the simplicity of the ingredients

While risotto literally translates to "rice" in Italian, Food and Wine explains that the dish isn't cooked in the same way as rice pilaf, white rice, or really any kind of rice that goes in a rice cooker. Arborio rice and carnaroli rice, used specifically for risotto, differs from long-grain rice in both texture, shape, and aroma. "It fuses the nutrients of brown rice and the ease of cooking white rice," the food magazine states. This makes risotto easy to learn, but hard to master. "Overcook the rice, you quickly ruin it. Overstir, and you lose the creamy, rich texture risotto is renowned for," Food and Wine warns. 

Even though risotto is simmered over medium heat, it isn't the type of dish you can leave on the stove unattended, because it requires stirring at least once every 30 seconds. Making a five-star dish with mystery basket ingredients is challenging enough, so any "Chopped" chef who decides to make risotto on top of that is taking a big risk.