For us at Tenuta San Carlo, September is one of the most exciting months of the year. After plenty of hard work and patience, it’s finally time to begin harvesting out rice. As the seasons change and the weather cools down, we’re dreaming of risotto.
Whether you’re a risotto expert or you’ve never made it at home before, everyone can learn something from Ente Risi’s step-by-step guide to preparing the perfect risotto. We have translated and edited this guide with their permission to share with you here.
First, you’ll need to get your hands on some Carnaroli rice. If you’re in Italy, you can find our Tuscan-grown Carnaroli rice at a grocery store or restaurant on this map. Otherwise, you can order it for home delivery anywhere in Europe through Maremma a Domicilio.
Choosing the right pot for your risotto
Some pots and pans are better suited than others for preparing risotto. If possible, it’s best to avoid the kind of tall, narrow pot that you would normally use for pasta, which may cook the rice unevenly, leaving the kernels on top uncooked while the bottom layer becomes overcooked and stuck to the pan.
The size of the pot depends on the amount of risotto that you will be preparing, but in general you’ll want a large, somewhat shallow pot so that the rice covers the surface in a relatively thin layer. Cast iron or copper pots are ideal as they heat up evenly, helping to ensure the perfect texture for your rice.
How to make soffritto
Soffritto is the base of many Italian recipes. There are many different ways of making a soffritto, but the general recipe is very simple – all you need to do is chop some vegetables and cook them in a saucepan with butter or oil.
How you make your soffritto depends on your personal preferences and what you have on hand. We tend to start our risotto with a soffritto of diced onions and olive oil.
How to “toast” rice
In order to make a good risotto, you’ll need to “toast” your rice for both flavor and texture.
If you cook the rice without having first toasted it, the kernels may break or become mushy. Toasted kernels will allow the starch to release slowly as the rice cooks, creating the desired creamy consistency.
To toast the rice, simply pour your uncooked rice into the pan where you have prepared your soffritto and cook it over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until the kernels become translucent around the edges.
How to “smoke” rice
To smoke the rice, simply pour the indicated quantity of alcohol or a similarly acidic liquid into the pan of the toasted rice with the soffritto. The hot kernels will cause the liquid to evaporate quickly, leaving behind just its flavor.
There are many different liquids that can be used to smoke rice for risotto. Depending on the flavor you’re after or whatever you have in your cabinet, you can use:
- White wine
- Red wine
- Sparkling wine
How to cook risotto
Once the alcohol has evaporated in the previous phase, you will begin to add stock one ladleful at a time. Allow the stock to absorb into the rice before adding more. You need to stir the rice frequently during this time.
After about ten minutes and a few ladlefuls of stock, you will want to begin taste-testing the risotto to check the texture of the rice. This process should take close to twenty minutes, depending on how al dente you like your rice.
The final step
Once the risotto has finished cooking, turn off the stovetop flame and stir in the suggested quantities of butter and grated cheese. Cover the pot and allow it to set for a few minutes. The risotto is ready!