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I made risotto for the first time last sunday - thanks to the advice I got from the posts here and here. I came to know about risotto from this site (probably not the correct way to learn about the recipe, as the questions in this site deal with particular aspect of the recipe of a food item thus expecting you to know the recipe ahead).

It was good (well, I have never eaten risotto before, so can't really compare) to my taste. There were so many recipies for risotto. Some call for wine, some do not have wine. Some call for juice, others for vinegar, some say no need to add anything beyond stock, etc...

I basically made vegetable stock, then fried rice in olive oil and added this stock to it slowly, ladle by ladle, over 30 minutes. At the end I added a mixture of fried vegetables to this cooked rice. The recipe tasted good. However I don't know what I am missing.

So my question what are the general principles when making a risotto? For what purpose is each ingredient (not the individual ones but generalised like stock, wine, juice etc...) added and when is it added?

The only thing I am sure about is that I can fry any variety of vegetables and add them to the rice at the end.

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    I do not understand what you are asking. You seem to have made a risotto just fine, what are your actual problems? – GdD Mar 3 '15 at 16:07
  • As I said, this is the first time I have eaten risotto. So I was not sure if I am missing anything. Also there are many opposing recipes for risotto. So I want to know the general principles, after knowing which I can make my own substitutions for ingredients I lack. @GdD – One Face Mar 4 '15 at 0:20
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The important part of making risotto is that you're moving it around in a little bit of liquid, so you end up scraping of the outside of the rice, causing the loose starch to thicken the remaining liquid to a creamy consistency. The overall dish should be creamy but not mushy, with the individual grains of rice still having some firmness to them.

As for your specific questions :

For details on preparation, see https://cooking.stackexchange.com/a/137/67 .

Most ingredients are simply for flavor. The acids (wine or vinegar) change how starch cooks and can keep it from getting too mushy, and add some brightness to the dish, but aren't absolutely necessary.

  • So we can add the veggies any time? – One Face Mar 3 '15 at 14:53
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    One thing I'd like to add that I recently leaned (and experimentation bears it out), is that you want to do it in a saucepan, not a skillet. ElendilTheTall taught me that. Before I had done it both ways without a thought. When I actually compared the two, the difference is big. – Jolenealaska Mar 3 '15 at 15:11
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    @CRags : I generally cook the vegetables before adding the rice (mushrooms, onions, etc.), but there are some that I'll add pretty late (eg, fresh peas). Much of it has to do with what you want the final texture to be ... you have better control of that by cooking them separately and adding them in, but if you do that , deglaze the pan and add the result back into the risotto so you don't lose any of their flavor. – Joe Mar 3 '15 at 15:16
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There is only one general principle for risotto:

Cook short grain rice long enough for the starches to be liberated and gelatinize. This results in the distinctive, pudding-like, creaminess.

Everything else is variable and for flavor. In particular boosting the umami to heartbreaking levels.

  • Stock and wine have more flavor than water. The alcohol in wine also dissolves interesting flavors in other ingredients
  • Mushrooms are packed with umami and are very traditional. The risotto I like best is basically just stock and a ton of mushrooms.

Stirring constantly is traditional but no one can figure out why because it isn't required.

Kenji at serious eats did a great article on risotto recently that I recommend. He cooks his in a pressure cooker and it is fast and easy. I tried it and it worked very well. Indistinguishable from the slow method.

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    The one time I can think when you might need the stirring constantly (or close to it) is if somehow you can't get your stove to a low enough simmer and it's going to stick/burn otherwise. But that'd be a pretty bad stove. – Cascabel Mar 3 '15 at 16:47
  • It's possible that it's 'traditional' because it had to be done before they bred varities of rice that don't need it. It's actually possible to make something risotto-like using long or medium grain rice, or even broken up bits of pasta. – Joe Mar 3 '15 at 19:16
  • Minor typo: imami -> umami – Tom Fenech Mar 4 '15 at 8:13

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