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risotto
Hi, my name is Mark and I’m addicted to risotto.  I could be served risotto every night of the week and you wouldn’t hear a peep about it.  Plain, mushroom, asparagus, chicken, sausage.  I don’t care what kind of risotto it is, I’m all over it. 

The problem is that risotto is labor intensive and time consuming with some recipes calling for an hour or more of cooking time. Not to mention the fact that you have to be present for all of it, stirring constantly.  With a newborn in the house that ain’t gonna roll. Hell, I’m lucky if I get to shave my bikini line anymore.

One night I was making white rice in my rice cooker, when I said, “It’s just rice.”  Why couldn’t I cook risotto like you cook every other kind of rice by putting all of the liquid in at once and skip the stirring bit?  A hundred years of Italian culinary tradition be damned.

So I decided to compare the two.  I made one batch of risotto in the traditional method and the other in my new fangled lazy ass approach.  But the no-stir risotto couldn’t taste anywhere near as good, could it?

Risotto – Stir v. No-stir

My batch of traditional risotto turned out great.  Even before I added the Parmesan cheese it was thick and creamy with a good deal of starch suspended in the liquid as you can see in this photo:
risotto
The stirred risotto clings to the spatula and its sauce has some real body.  You’ll also notice too that the rice grains are pretty much intact.

For the no-stir risotto I followed the basic steps of the traditional risotto up until the point of adding the liquid bit by bit and stirring.  At that point, I just dumped all of the liquid in and let it boil.  Then I walked away.  I don’t remember what I did during that time, but I can guarantee you it was a hell of a lot more fun than stirring. 

When I came back to check on my risotto, I was quite pissed.  The risotto was more like rice soup with absolutely no body and hundreds of exploded rice grains:
no stir risotto 
You can see in the picture that the sauce is very watery and little or no starch suspended in it like the risotto I stirred. The texture in the mouth was horrible as well, flavorless mush.  I think I ended up throwing the pictured spatula across the room.

My traditional risotto got even better after I added the Parmesan cheese, down right luxurious if I do say so myself. 
risotto rice
Risotto perfection.

Although I was really ticked off about how poorly the no-stir risotto had turned out, I decided that I might as well go for the gusto and waste the Parmesan cheese as well.  I figured it could only make it better, it sure as hell couldn’t make it worse.

As I added the Parmesan something magical happened.  The grated cheese melted eventually it combined with the liquid and began binding the rice together.  Rather quickly, the no-stir risotto went from looking like the dog’s dinner to mine.
no-stir risotto 
While it looked more like traditional risotto, I was skeptical to taste it.  It wasn’t exactly on the money, but it wasn’t that far off either.  I think that the burst rice grains softened the texture a bit too much for it to be perfect.  On the other hand, I had an hour of freedom I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Conclusion

You don’t have to spend an hour stirring to make some pretty damn good risotto, you can boil it like you do any other kind of rice.  It won’t be perfect, but it will be very close and if you’re anywhere as busy as I am, you can deal with that.

Bonus: I love left-over risotto almost as much as fresh and the day after, I couldn’t tell the difference between the stir and no-stir.


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3 Responses to “Risotto – Stir or No Stir”

  1. Nate Says:

    I love the new style! Thanks for the test. I also LOVE risotto. I make it all the time. I like to toot my own horn and say I have mastered it. I don’t know about the hour cooking time. I was told years ago 23 minutes. I have never strayed from that rule. It works every time. Thanks again!

  2. Alisa@Foodista Says:

    Thanks for all the tip! I love risotto, and I bet mine will taste so much better after this :)

  3. Karl @ Eatmania Says:

    I love risotto too and can eat day every day.

    Lately I have been travelling to Verona and found out that the chef, Gabriele Ferron, nicknamed the ‘king of rice’ uses the no stirring technique for risotto.

    I have learnt how to cook risotto using this method and I found out that it is much better. The attention needs to be given to the type of rice you use and the amount of stock.

    What type of rice did you use? Because I use Vialone nano or Carnaroli and if you do not stir the grains keep intact totally. While when I retried the stirring technique the rice started to break down and becoming mushy.

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