How to Make an Italian Risotto for Beginners

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Risotto is a staple Italian dish that every home cook should have. It ranks right up there with lasagna or pizza. It is comforting, filling, and delicious. You can make the dish your own and you will never tire of it.

This guide will show you how to make traditional Italian risotto.

It takes time and effort to make Italian-style Risotto. It’s not difficult, but it has many benefits. You will not only end up with delicious food, but the classic Italian Risottorecipe can also be used as a base for making new recipes with different ingredients. You can make risotto in the traditional Italian manner or use a simple recipe that you can build on.

Our Walks of Italy guide Mose Viero is a special thanks for providing us with tips and tricks to create authentic Italian Risotto.

The history of Italian rice dishes

Risotto dates back to the 15th Century in Lombardy. As cities grew, so did the need for food. Different ways of cooking rice became popular and soon rice soup was a staple food, giving rise to risotto.

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Giovanni Felice Luraschi, a renowned Italian chef, gave the official recipe in his 1829 Nuovo Cuoco Milanese Economico (or ‘The New Thrifty Milanese Cookbook). The dish was referred to as “risotto al Milanese Giallo”. His original recipe isn’t too different from the way we know it today. It includes rice, broth infused beef-marrow, cheese, saffron, and nutmeg.

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Risotto Alla Milanese

Risotto Alla Milanese, one of the most unique types of risotto, is among them. It is made with saffron and has a distinctive taste and colour that distinguishes it from other versions of the dish. Its creation is tied to Milan’s Duomo.

Valerius, an apprentice, was charged with creating the stained glass windows for the church. He used a variety of beautiful colours to do so. The town decided that it would be fun to credit the herb saffron instead for the vibrant colours.

Valerius was frustrated that his hard work wasn’t appreciated and decided to add a lot of saffron to the rice he served at his master’s wedding feast. His plan was to ruin the event and take sweet revenge on the townpeople. But, it didn’t work out as planned. The dish was loved by the wedding party and risotto ala milanese was born.

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Before you cook

Do not wash your rice before making Italian risotto. It is important to leave the natural starch on the rice so that it absorbs the broth and becomes rich and creamy. This makes preparation much easier.

The broth should be heated. You can add hot water to the broth if you’ve used all the liquid.

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Risotto can be made with shrimp, mushrooms, butternut squash, red bell peppers, and many other ingredients. You will need to adjust the cooking time for your recipe. For example, a risotto made with peppers would be prepared from the beginning, while a shrimp-risotto would need to be prepared in its entirety, with the shrimp added at the end to prevent overcooking.

Important to remember that risotto takes patience and time to prepare. This means you should not scroll through social media or multitask while cooking. Risotto deserves your full attention. It’ll be well worth it, we promise!

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Be sure not to wash the rice before cooking

Classic Italian risotto recipe

Serves: 4-6

Time:30 mins for the broth and 45 minutes for risotto

Ingredients

  • 400g arborio rice
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 115ml white wine (still and not sparkling)
  • 2 pints of broth – meat, vegetable, or stock if it’s not possible to make ahead.
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped oregano
  • Salt and pepper to your liking
  • 25g grated Parmesan (optional).
  • 50g Bel Paese cheese (optional)

Steps

Begin by making your broth

You will need the following ingredients to make vegetable broth:

  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots (medium-large)
  • 1 stick celery
  • Parsley, oregano and thyme are some herbs of choice
  • Salt and pepper

In a large saucepan heat the oil. Next, chop the vegetables and then add 2 litres water to the pot. Bring to a boil the herbs, salt, and pepper. After that, let it simmer for 30 minutes to absorb all the flavour. You will have a flavorful broth.

Next, prepare the Risotto

  • Begin with a soffritto and heat the butter in a saucepan with finely chopped onions. Fry for approximately five minutes, or until golden.
  • Then add the arborio Rice and stir well until coated with butter. Fry for about 2 to 3 minutes
  • Mix the white wine with the rice until it is well combined
  • Next, pour 1/2 cup of the stock into a saucepan. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and allow the rice to simmer for a while to absorb the liquids. You should stir frequently during this time.
  • Now comes the hard part. Continue to add 1/2 pint stock at a given time. Continue mixing until the liquid is fully absorbed. Then, add more stock. Stock that is added too quickly will not absorb properly. Remember patience is the key to this. Rome was not built in one day!
  • This should take about 20 minutes. The rice should be creamy and al dente after that.
  • Next is the mantecatura. Remove the risotto from the heat. Add a tablespoon butter to the mixture and mix well. This is what makes Italian risotto so special and gives it that creamy texture.
  • Optional: If you desire a creamy risotto, add some Bel Paese and parmesan to the rice. Fold both cheeses in the rice at the mantecatura stage. Continue this process for approximately 2 minutes, until the cheeses are melted.
  • Add the oregano, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve with fresh salad or red wine (or both!
  • It’s easy to make risotto in Italian style. If you want to learn more about Italian cooking, check out our Rome Pasta Making class with a local chef or our Florence Gelato & Pasta Making Experience. You can also check out our Rome or Florence food tours if you want to learn more about Italian cuisine without having to cook.