Liquid for Risotto

Joined Dec 1, 2001
Does anyone notice a large difference in the finished dish when using a liquid that does not have any natural gelatin in it like straight vegetable stock as opposed to Chicken stock? I know it depends on the dish, but I use almost exclusively Chicken stock, and if I want to flavor it with somthing like shrimp shells, I will just put the shells in the chicken stock and let it barely simmer for a little while.
A new aquaintance of mine was just telling me about how he sometimes makes a risotto with the blanching liquid of the vegetable that he puts in the dish. Like asparagus.
I would think that a less gelatinous liquid would make the dish less creamy. And I always thought that the natural creaminess from the starch is what makes risotto so great.
Since I'm on the subject anyway, what are some of your favorite risotto recipes?
Joined May 26, 2001
It's mostly the rice that makes the creaminess -- surface starch, that is. Perhaps the collagen in the stock makes a slight difference, but I would think that rice is more important. I have used all sorts of liquids, whatever I have in the fridge, and cannot tell a difference when using the same rice. Gentleness and time matter, but I think not liquid -- other than in the rate at which it is added.
Joined Feb 2, 2002
Hi Crane:

I agree with Suzanne......The type of rice is more important than the gelatin in the stock, or broth.

Also.....the parmesan or other hard cheese, and the whole butter added (if that is how you make it). And adding the stock to the dish in several stages......all of this adds up to a creamy risotto.

If you took a good vegetable stock, and added shrimp shells to you said....and reduce this stock to get the proper flavor.

You should be able to come up with a very flavorful dish.

Now......if you have a weak vegetable stock......then you are going to have a weak tasting risotto.....or you will need to add other flavors to develop the dish.

Let's consider the gelatin congeals when cold.
when the gelatin in hot it loosens up......the same thing with the are serving the dish the gelatin would not contribute that much to the final product.

Good luck,

Chef Nosko
Boston, MA
Joined Aug 11, 2000
Wild shroom risotto~~~~ cooks up great in the big outdoors...I've made shiitake risotto with sauteed green veg with lemon grass in the shiitake rehydrating liquid <aka risotto liquid.
I like rehydrating dried shrooms and using that liquid for the risotto and then sauting fresh ones to fold in at the end.
###March 18 is beginning of Morel season!!! I 'll go out this weekend for sure.
Joined Mar 7, 2002
Perhaps this is not the appropriate thread, but as you were speaking of risotto Dear Abby could not resist sharing a little recipe with you.

This recipe is the favorite of Dear Abby's close friend, designer Valentino. (She was fortunate to be able to get a copy of this for Henri.) It was created and prepared by his private chefs. It has been served in his London townhouse, as well as in his lovely homes in Gstaad, Capri, New York and at his simply breathtaking palazzo in Rome.

This recipe (using rich chicken stock, of course) is graciously provided by Valentino's excellent domestic staff to all who express admiration for the dish. In addition to being divinely creamy and delicious, it adds a nice touch of green to the plate.

Risotto Verde

4 1/4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cups fresh parsley leaves, loosely packed
1 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
1/2 cup cooked spinach, excess moisture squeezed out
1/4 cup fresh chives, finely chopped
2 heaping tablespoons fresh tarragon
1/4 cup fresh chervil, loosely packed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In food processor, combine 1 cup of the chicken stock with the parsley, basil, spinach, chives, tarragon and chervil. Use several short "pulses" to blend well. Set aside.

In medium saucepan over high heat, bring remaining 3 1/4 cups stock to a boil.

Meanwhile, melt butter in large saucepan set over medium heat. Add rice and stir until warmed through (about 1 minute), then increase heat slightly to medium-high. Add the boiling stock in 1/2-cup increments, stirring constantly, until rice has absorbed all the liquid (add next 1/2 cup of boiling stock only when all previous liquid has been absorbed).

Pulse the herbed chicken stock once again to blend, then add to the rice in 1/2-cup increments and cook until the liquid is absorbed.

Stir in the cream, then remove from heat. Stir in the cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. If desired, garnish with fresh basil or tarragon sprig.

SERVES 4 to 6.
Joined Jun 11, 2001
One idea that some friends of a bistro owner in Monaco gave us was using champagne in risotto. Apparently this guy would put aside any partially consumed bottles of champagne (probably good stuff, too, give the locale), then make some late night risotto with this.

I've tried this several times, and it does add an interesting twist. I've found that using champagne for most of the liquid changes the taste far too much for my liking, and have settled on a method of replacing ~ 1/3 of the stock with champagne, but using this as the first liquid added, along with some stock. Incorporating the champagne last gives too much residual champagne taste, IMHO.
Joined May 26, 2001
???? Gee, guess that means I'll have to open another! Sounds like it's worth a try to use it -- sometimes I use still wine, so why not sparkling (instead of letting it go flat).

Dear Abby, you are indeed a darling for that recipe. How delightfully vernal! I could almost forgive Signor Valentino his unfortunate forays into pret-a-porter, if he has the good taste for such a dish.
Joined Nov 29, 2001
I love risotto and don't get to have it often enough because husband and daughter don't like it...sigh. Perhaps after we move our neighbors will like it and I can make it for them!

The liquid should always be hot when added to the rice. I agree on the type of rice issue - it should be arborio or the spanish version (I want to say Modelo?). Got a bunch of bags of Modelo dirt cheap at Wal-Mart and made leftover-lobster-meat-risotto. We actually do have leftover lobster meat on Christmas Eve because there are so many other seafood dishes served, we don't always get to finish the lobster.
Joined Jul 31, 2000
Shroom, I can't believe it's been a year since Morel season, I wish you many damp tree's :) I also love wild mushroom rissoto Yum,

Dear Abby, very nice recipe you shared. Two questions to ask Henri,

First, does he mont with butter just before serving? and Second, What doe's henri serve with the rice? or is it simply a side dish?

Opps, forgot to mention, I remember a long time ago, another cheftalker asked me the name of the other rice used for rissotto,

carnaroli is excellent, try it next time you make risotto, or even see if you can find Vialone Nano
Joined Feb 2, 2002

I agree with Cape Chef....Carnaroli Rice makes a nice risotto.

You may have trouble finding it, depending on where you live.

I have never tried Vialone Nano....but will go down to the North End in Boston, and see if I can find it.

Chef Nosko
Boston, MA
Joined Mar 13, 2001
I like chicken stock and dry white wine (1/2 cup wine for 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock).

To a basic risotto, I like to add any of the following:
  • Sautéed shrimp;
  • Mixed seafood such as salmon, shrimp and scallops, sautéed;
  • Mushrooms; or
  • Roasted garlic.
:p :p
Joined Jun 9, 2001
when i was in school, i did a project on the reaction of diffrent liquids in risotto. apple cider turned out awesome... beer was interesting, champ. was good but someone fruity tasting.. like apples. milk and cream didnt really turn out well. rootbeer was good too. hope this helps
Joined Mar 7, 2002
M. Cape Chef,

Dear Abby has asked Henri - she fears that you will not like his answer. At least he didn't throw a spoon at poor Abby.

Chef Henri said, "All of the butter that Madame will allow me to serve is in the dish already and I assure you that the amount is adequate, and the flavor sublime, Chef!"

Therefore, Dear Abby contacted Signor Valentino to acquire an answer for M. Cape Chef. She was told that Valentino's private chefs use butter very sparingly, generally preferring olive oil from Giancarlo Giammetti's villa in Cetona, but making an exception for this dish. Giancarlo is, of course, Valentino's partner, and a most charming gentleman!

Do try the recipe exactly as posted. To quote Valentino, "I am a perfectionist. I do not accept failure -- even in the kitchen!"


Joined Dec 1, 2001
What is the real difference between Arborio, Carnaroli, and Vialone? I had always thought it was just the length and size of the grain, which affects the cooking time. Does one type have a higher starch content that the other two?
Joined Mar 13, 2001
Risotto rice comes in three grades based on size: semifino, (the smallest), fino, and superfino.

Arborio is by far the most common superfino rice; the grains are the largest and the most pearly white.
Vialone Nano, a semifino, is the smallest of the available risotto rices, with a somewhat less shiny surface than that of Arborio. It is rounder, so it cooks more evenly. For a looser, saucier risotto, this one will do the trick. And it also cooks up with an al dente feel to it.
Carnaroli is a superfino and the firmest of the four, so it takes the longest to cook. And because it holds up well under reheating, restaurants that have to precook risotto tend to use this variety. It makes a fabulous dish. It's got a niftier texture than arborio, more of an al dente center without feeling undercooked.
Joined Mar 13, 2001
Try toasting the rice for 15 minutes before adding any broth in order to break down the surface starch and thus produce a creamier risotto. This method produces the best risotto--creamy and full of flavor, with a light nuttiness.

To toast the rice, put one tablespoon of oil for every cup of rice in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat. Then stir continually with a wooden spoon to toast evenly and prevent burning. After 15 minutes, add the broth in small amounts, about a half-cup at a time, as the previous addition is absorbed. It's important not to add too much broth at once, for this will prevent the rice from cooking evenly.

No matter what the type of risotto, add a few drops of fresh lemon juice at the end of cooking and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil just before serving.

Joined Jan 11, 2002
Just my Italian two cents:

1)As Kimmie said, we usually toast rice for quite a long time (10-15 mins) without adding any liquid. We usually don't use oil, but butter, that gives a subtler taste to the risotto (although you must be more careful to prevent it from burning!)

2)Before starting adding stock we usually add a glass of wine (GOOD wine!), higher the heat, allow it to evaporate and then start adding the boiling stock, very gradually as you said. We usually use white wine, apart from some recipes that call for red wine (Like the Risotto al Barolo).

3)Don't forget a trick! You must stop cooking the risotto when it's pretty undercooked and still too liquid, almost like a soup. Switch off the heat, add a piece of butter and a handful grated parmesan, stir, cover the pan and keep the risotto aside for 5 mins before serving. You need some experience to learn the right timing, but this is the only way to get a real Risotto and not a glue!

Joined Mar 13, 2001
Thank you Pongi for finishing my thoughts. I always follow 3) above. It really makes a difference.

I was also told by an Italian friend that when her mom started the risotto with butter, she would "finish" with butter. When she would start with oil, she would finish with oil. And some other times she would start with oil/butter, then she would finish with oil/butter. ;)
Joined Feb 11, 2002
At the Italian restaurant where I used to cook (predominately Venetian/northern Italian) we always used the carnaroli type for risotto. As Kimmie said, it would hold up better for precooking. I use the vialone to make arancine which are stuffed rice croquettes( sometimes made made with left over risotto if there is any!). The vialone always retained it's firmness and I like the texture and size better than the arborio.
Top Bottom