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Risotto: 5 mistakes we make often
Risotto: 5 mistakes we make often

I still am amazed when someone claims that the risotto recipe it's difficult. Maybe it is that I have it in my Lombard DNA, it may be that at home it is done at least once a week except in the hottest months of July and August (because of the broth, see point 4), but I find it even relaxing to stay there in stir from time to time, sipping a glass of the uncorked wine to blend and letting myself be intoxicated by the aromas that rise from the casserole.

Yes, the casserole: do you know that there is a right and a wrong one?

This is just the first of the mistakes you could make to ruin everything.

And serve a hospital boiled rice instead of a great risotto comme il faut.

1. Use any piñata

A good risotto must cook evenly. This is why it is necessary to mix it often, and this is why you shouldn't leave beans on the sidelines but take them down carefully with each stir, which when I see them omitted makes me angry: am I strange?

All in vain, however, if you use the wrong pot. Assuming (I hope) no one is throwing it into a pan, as is sometimes seen in certain foreign programs or articles, it is just as wrong to pile it up in a pan that is too tall and narrow.

The ideal is a fairly wide pan with medium walls, which easily contain rice and broth in a layer two or three fingers high (depending on the fingers!). With a thick bottom that retains and distributes heat well.

On the materials I leave the choice to you, and to your wallet. Even if the top remains the classic low copper casserole with the curved handle.

2. Make a coarse sauté

Never, never, never the diced onion, shallot or whoever they must be larger than grains of rice.

Both for a matter of texture and for correct cooking: too large, they would remain raw, weighing down the flavor of the risotto.

While we're at it, the right way to sauté is to let it dry gently, without it taking color, caramelizing or burning, otherwise it would completely change the taste of the dish. When it comes time to add the rice, it must be soft, still clear and have lost the acrid taste.

The best way to achieve this is to gradually wet it with hot broth. Make sure, however, that in the end it remains rather dry: whether you want to bask in the rice, or whether the toasting of the grains is done separately, as I am going to explain to you in the next point.

3. Not knowing where to toast

Case one: in the sizzling butter (or oil, but see point 5) pour the chopped onion, mix, add the rice, let it toast 1-2 minutes and start with the liquids (wine and then broth). Mistake: the onion will remain raw, strong, even crack under the teeth.

Case two: pour the chopped onion into the sauce, wait for it to be well cooked by adding water or broth from time to time, but making sure it is dry at the end, then add the rice, toast it, etc.

So, in my opinion, that's correct. It is only necessary to pay attention that in the few minutes in which the rice is toasted, the onion does not burn, therefore it is necessary to stir constantly. In this way, in my opinion, the rice is more flavored.

Case three: the recently popular method involves making the sauté in a saucepan and toasting the rice separately, without seasoning, in a non-stick pan, and then adding it to the base. I don't find any real use in it except to dirty a second pan and have to get by on two fronts, but I'm here to let you convince me that it's a good idea.

By the way, you know that roasting is what makes the difference between risotto and boiled rice: in fact, it seals (pass me the term) the outside of the grain so that it will not release too much starch (just enough to obtain a well-creamed rice, see point 5) and will remain compact, rightly al dente, retaining its beautiful shape without crushing.

4. Use poor broth

I do not even conceive of risottos made with vegetable broth, because in my opinion the characteristic of a good risotto is a light, but perceptible, fatness.

Then don't come and talk to me about nuts, granules, gels and brik: the broth must be made at home with chicken or meat (beef, veal) according to taste, recipe, availability.

Then there is the question of fish-based risottos. Years ago, interviewing a colleague then little known but already very expert in Italian cuisine, she told me - convincing me - that seafood risotto does not exist. Because without butter and Parmesan it is just rice.

Today I feel less Taliban and therefore I also contemplate versions with fish, molluscs and crustaceans. But only if done with a good comic. And still whipping with a knob of butter, which with prawns and scampi is a fairy tale, to say. But in this regard, read the next point.

5. Always be undecided between butter and oil

I know well that it is a question of philosophy and that, like so many other Italian matters, it contrasts two parties that can be North against South, but also improvised health-conscious against enjoying ourselves without fear.

Risotto is a northern recipe and its fat is butter. Butter is not bad for your health if used in small quantities and not subjected to high temperatures. Butter is essential in the creaming phase when, added very cold to the risotto as soon as it is removed from the heat (together with the Parmesan), by binding to the starch it creates the famous cream for which the dish is famous all over the world.

If you are really scared, I allow you to use the oil in the initial stir-fry, but do not dare to stir in the extra virgin olive oil. Of course, this is true if you want to invite me to dinner, otherwise do as you like.

By the way, perfect creaming has another secret: resting for two minutes in a covered pan.

It is during these two minutes that the magic will happen and your rice, which you have basked, wet, turned over with so much love, will finally become the risotto of your dreams.

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