My risotto is too brown

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by texancook, Jun 8, 2010.

  1. texancook

    texancook

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    When I make risotto it comes out brown.  I'm using homemade stock, which is pretty rich, so I think that might be the culprit.  So other than watering down my stock, do y'all have any suggestions?  I also may be caramelizing my onions a little bit too far so I'll back that down a notch too. Thoughts?
     
  2. amazingrace

    amazingrace

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    If it tastes good,  does it really matter that it's brown?  The ingredients you describe sound yummy. 
     
  3. highlander01

    highlander01

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    Just being a home cool my guess is that your stock is making it brown ... unless your using a huge amount of onion they would have to be practically black to cause your risotto to turn brown.

    I love making risotto but I have never had it to turn brown on me but then again I don't carmalize my onions and I use store bought stock.
     
  4. texancook

    texancook

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    Yeah, I'd really like for it to be white and creamy.  One of these days I plan to serve it to people who pay for it, and they won't be happy with brown risotto.
     
  5. french fries

    french fries

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    I don't caramelize onions when I make risotto. I sweat the onions (or shallots) in the oil, without any coloration.

    I also usually use white stock, not dark stock (meaning a stock where I don't first roast and brown the bones and vegetables). 
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2010
  6. texancook

    texancook

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    I don't make brown stock at all.  But it's really strong.  The stock pot I use isn't very big, and it's pretty close to full of bones.  I'm probably going to cut my stock in half with water next time.  And I prefer to brown the onions a bit in just about everything I make... I'll have to tone that down a bit for risotto from now on.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2010
  7. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    I'm with FrenchFries on this. Start by just sweating the shallots (onions) until translucent but not colored. Add the rice and let it saute. Add white wine and cook until it evaporates away. Then start adding your stock.

    If that doesn't do it, try using a white stock---chicken or veal---instead of beef and see if that helps.
     
  8. texancook

    texancook

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    I am using chicken stock. I'll try sweating instead of browning.
     
  9. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Let's see if we can't organize this a little bit, and in the process get down to first principles.

    Yellow chicken stock won't make risotto turn brown, no matter how intensely flavored or how yellow.  On the other hand, if the stock itself is brown it can't help but turn the risotto brown as well.  It doesn't get more basic than that.  

    Neither the size of your pot nor the amount of chicken you stuff into it as anything to do with the color of the stock -- and is only indirectly related to the intensity of the flavor.  To make a good, strong stock you do need a sufficient quantity of chicken parts -- but it's mostly a matter of proper skimming, low enough heat, and enough time.  Try and remember that a good stock is brewed more than it is cooked.  If it ever boils with the chicken in the pot, you messed up.

    Improper cooking technique -- for instance cooking too hot and leaving the scum in too long without skimming -- can make a chicken stock cook tan instead of yellow.  Boiling will mix little, itty bitty particles into the stock so thoroughly they can not be sieved out.

    If you want a true, "white" chicken stock, i.e., blanc, make the stock in the usual way using celery and raw onions but without carrots.  You may, if you like, substitute parsnips.  Avoid bouquets garni and herbs generally.  But a handful of parsley thrown end near the end of cooking  can be a good thing.  It has some weird magic which partially cancels the pale yellow from the chicken and makes the blanc look whiter. 

    Blancs aside, assuming you are not messing up your stock or using a brown stock (a brun) to begin with, the undesirable color most likely comes from browned (caramelized) onions and from the fond they left in the pan. 

    If you're using butter to cook the onions, or to coat the rice, the color may also come from the butter itself browning.   Try substituting olive oil.

    In any case, keep the heat down.  As FF said, sweat the onions rather than browning them.  Try cooking the entire dish at medium (or less) until you have complete control of the process.

    Hope this helps,

    BDL
     
  10. siduri

    siduri

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    One more thought, to add to all the ones above. 

    Risotto calls for tossing the raw rice in butter over heat before adding liquid.  If you've already browned the onions, and then you cook the rice too much it will tend to get a little brown itself.  The pan will also be brown (as will the butter, as bdl mentioned) and all those ingredients will add brownness. Onions have sugar in them, caramelizing the sugar produces caramel (stating the obvious) and many brown things are colored with caramel, even coca cola!  that's a nice dark brown dye. 

    I don't know if what i make is stock or broth, but i never had one that was so brown it would make risotto anything more than creamy tan. (Maybe i need to learn to make stock?)
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2010
  11. french fries

    french fries

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    Actually it calls for tossing the rice in oil, which shouldn't brown it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2010
  12. dc sunshine

    dc sunshine

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    Ditto what was said above about not browning the onions.  You may think it tastes good, and it probably does, but it is more than likely what is causing your risotto to go brown. You want just softened, sweated, translucent onions in there.

    If your stock is too dark your risotto will be too dark, as BDL explained.  I'm sure it tastes very nice besides all these things, but if you want to serve it to customers evevnutally, they will be expecting it pale.  Not brown.  So, take some of the great advice given above, and let us know how you go!

    DC
     
  13. texancook

    texancook

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    Great info Boar, that's exactly the kind of info I was looking for in my first post ever on cheftalk.  Regarding the quantity of bones and size of my pot... I was assuming that more bones and less water (due to pot size) equated to stronger, therefore darker, stock. I'll have to watch my temp and do a better job of skimming. I'm usually doing a ton of other things while my stock simmers away, so I don't do a great job of skimming. 
     
  14. siduri

    siduri

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    Depends entirely on the kind of risotto.  If you mean risotto alla milanese, i've always heard butter - or butter and marrow, if you mean risotto alla pescatore, then oil.  Usually tomato based risotto has oil.  And the region would also determine the fat used - in tuscany you would use butter AND oil.  (My mother used to make risotto with chicken livers, heart and gizzard, sauteed in butter and oil, onion, and then wine and tomato.) 

    The recipes i know call for cooking it over heat with the fat, not just tossing it - cooking it till it gets transparent -  and if you cook it too long, it will brown (it will blacken if you leave it long enough!) whether oil or butter .  I doubt that was the problem but it is possible.  (Some dishes call for toasting the grain before cooking)
     
  15. french fries

    french fries

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    Thanks for the additional info siduri. I always thought you cooked the rice in oil, not in butter. Good to know it depends on the type of risotto and the region it comes from etc... I stand corrected.
     
  16. siduri

    siduri

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    Depends on that, but mainly on individual taste!  If you like oil, use oil! 
     
  17. french fries

    french fries

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    I usually coat the rice in oil and saute it over medium-hight heat before adding the wine, so that's the reason I never use butter. I suppose if you use butter you'd have to turn the heat down a bit so it doesn't brown. Maybe I'll try it once!