Risotto non-stir method

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by kevin20422, Dec 21, 2009.

  1. kevin20422

    kevin20422

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    I am really exciting about making my first batch of Risotto tonight. It is 10:30 PM in Colorado and I am a little tired but I want to master this process. It seems like a wonderful way to put to use up the stock that is building up in the fridge and freezer.

    I am interesting in the method one Italian chef uses were since he knows how much stock his rice will absorb he just puts in the right amount of stock and lets it cook by itself without stirring.

    I have no problems with the time it takes to get the weight of the rice perfect and the stock measurement and temp and time, I like that kind of thing. The idea of saving all that stirring time after honing in all the parameters is of interest to me.

    Any information related to the above inquiry would be appreciated.
     
  2. petalsandcoco

    petalsandcoco

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    Kevin,

    This will be a first. In all my years of making Risotto, I have never heard of a non-stir method, in fact I was taught that a great Risotto was all about the technique and "stirring" and "Risotto" are almost always used in the same sentence.
     
  3. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    the simplest non-stir method is with the pressure cooker. Saute the rice in the fat with the desired aromatics. Add the stock. Seal and bring to 15 pounds pressure for 6 minutes, quick release of the pressure. Add Cheese and other quick cooking things ( seafood) and correct seasoning and liquid if needed.

    From start of measuring and chopping to presentation is about 15 minutes total.
     
  4. hotchpotch

    hotchpotch

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    I posted this earlier on another Risotto question so it might be of interest to you:


    http://www.cheftalk.com/forums/food-cooking-questions-discussion/57737-risotto-help-2.html


    Constantly stirring Risotto actually will result in a "gooey" texture NOT creamy as another poster pointed out. Unfortunately too many people equate "gooey" as being the characteristic of a good Risotto, it is not.


    It should also be noted that most restaurants that use this technique of adding all the stock at once, give it a quick stir and then let it cook use plain old Arborio rice which has a very high amylopectin content. The use of other rices may need more agitation to release more of this water soluble starch to get the required creaminess.
     
  5. petalsandcoco

    petalsandcoco

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    Phatch,

    Using the pressure cooker is terrific, a skill I have yet to hone especially plating for many clients.

    Hotchpotch,

    My risotto is good, at the same time I have seen many Chefs overcook because of the constant stirring, you are so right there. I am glad Kevin you posted this.
     
  6. duckfat

    duckfat

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    Unless you go at a batch of risotto like a human mixer you are not going to make the rice gummy just by stirring it. If you get gummy risotto chances are you over cooked it, used too much stock or just started with the wrong rice.
    Other than making risotto for a large party I'm not sure I see the benefit of pressure cooking. By the time you saute the rice, add stock and get the pressure cooker sealed and up to temp, cook, cool the cooker add more stock and finish your cook time is pretty much the same as if you had used a traditional method.
    IMO good risotto is based on technique as much as the quality of the ingredients.
     
  7. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    For the pressure cooker, you add all the stock at once.
     
  8. kevin20422

    kevin20422

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    I made the risotto last night and was happy with the outcome. I used arborio rice and did not remove the onion, garlic, and fennel as about half the recipes suggest after browning them.

    Some cooks suggest sweating onion for risotto instead of sauteing and rice saute times vary from 1 min to 7mins.

    My risotto came out well I believe because it was firm in the center and the rice stuck together but each grain retained its space if you will. I have a very rich stock which helps.

    I may just make it by hand for a while as it is fun. Any problems with cooking a big batch for say 6 people with shrimp and asparagus. One big batch? 5 oz rice was about right for two so I would need 2 cups rice alone for six I suppose.
     
  9. chris.lawrence

    chris.lawrence

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    If it aint stirred, it aint a risotto!!

    Why? Same reason why you only add a ladel at a time- Friction:
    Friction rubs the rice grains together, drawing out more starch and dissolves part of the endosperm in the cooking liquid.

    What the heck's an endosperm?
    The endosperm is the biggest part of the rice grain we eat.

    Why the heck would we want to dissolve it?
    Well because with risotto rice, we want to make the grain effectively thinner to allow the moisture to be more efficient at cooking it. We do that so we can cook it a little short to allow for a chewy centre. If we did NOT do this, then we cook the rice grain right through, and then BREAK it by stirring.

    Also stirring a little stock in at a time, means more water evaporates, and more flavours from your stock is tranfered to your risotto.

    The difference between "gooey" and "creamy"? Simply the amount of cooking liquid left in the dish at the end. Less gives you a stickier texture.

    The traditional cooking methods exist for a reason.
     
  10. bazza

    bazza

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    Good post Chris, I agree with this although I had to google 'endosperm' The only way you are going to get 'gooey' risotto is by overcooking. 'Creamy' is, as you say the starches from the rice which I find are best extracted within the first five to ten minutes of stirring, after that you can ease off a bit.

    The technique of adding stock little by little is for a very good reason. Why not put all of the stock in at the begginning? Because that would be more like a pilaf or paella, a very different technique with a very different end result. Risotto 'non stir method' is like saying milkshake 'non shake method' its ok but it's not the same.

    I don't own a pressure cooker so I can't really comment on risotto cooked this way, I am sure it is acceptable but I cannot imagine it would be comparable to the traditional method.
     
  11. duckfat

    duckfat

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    "I had to google 'endosperm' "

    It may interest you to know that corn starch is made from the endosperm of corn. ;)
     
  12. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    OK I have to make an admission. I like my risotto "gooey" and thick and overcooked. When making for a dinner party then I make it the right way.
     
  13. hotchpotch

    hotchpotch

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    As I said originally 2 Chefs will yield 5 opinions about Risotto. :rolleyes:

    Chemistry says amlyopectin is water soluble, that's the main starch we are talking about when dealing with Risotto, all you need is water to draw out the starch. What confuses everybody is the friction vs the cooking till translucent of the rice. Heating the rice before you add stock creates minute fissures and cracks throughout the endosperm, as it heats and absorbs the oil into these cracks it becomes translucent, that's when you know to add the stock.

    The liquid then can penetrate the cracks and dissolve the amlyopectin, the pressure cooker method does the same thing just faster. Those who don't use this method need to stir it a lot to cause artificial breaks down part of the rice (friction fissures) and that allows the water to penetrate. In essence you can do one or the other to get the same results but there problems with one of the methods that should be self-evident.

    When stirring one cook will stir it 10 minutes, one will stir it 2, the other 7 minutes, the next 12. In other words there is absolutely no consistency unless you sit there with a watch and stir for exactly X amount of minutes.

    Now let's be practical, you own a restaurant that is known for risotto on a busy night you might be cooking 10-20 orders at a time explain how is EACH one is going to be stirred consistently?

    How many risotto chef's do you plan on having to make sure that each pot gets it correct amount of stirring? :look:

    Not exactly - evaporation of water is controlled by two things surface area and temperature of water. (If we want to get real anal - humidity of ambient air also plays a role but we can't control that very much in the kitchen).

    With all things being equal two identical pots kept at the same identical temperatures; one with 1 gallon of water and one with 1 cup added at a time as it evaporates to make 1 gallon, will evaporate at the same rate (rate = time).

    Flavor transfer will be the same since identical amounts of stock is used.

    Now you will argue that when the stock is nearly evaporated temp will increase and this is true so in reality a little more stock is used but again this brings us to several problems.

    #1 The chance of burning the risotto by a busy cook is much higher.
    #2 More cooks are needed to monitor 10-20 pots.
    #3 The chance of mistakingly adding more than the required amount of stock in one pot goes up exponentially. (Hmmm pot 9 do I have 5 or 6 ladles in it, oh well just add another just in case.)
    #4 As your master stock is simmering it is reducing therefore changing its flavor

    This all adds up for a very inconsistent product again. :mad:

    You can easily do an experiment to show this is not true.

    Take two pans of risotto and sauté them the "identical" amount - one dump ALL the stock in the other use your method but stir it the whole time - then compare.

    You will see a very recognizable difference - the water left will be the same but yours will be inundated with excess starch making it gooey.


    As I noted earlier some of the top restaurants in Italy and in America who are renowned for their Risotto DON'T use "the traditional cooking method". Perhaps there is a reason to their madness and the accolades they receive over their 'consistently' creamy risotto. :peace:

    I've said it before that this method is not "the traditional method" or "the Risotto method" however it gives the desired risotto results in a consistent and controlled ways. I think anyone can name quite a few things that we do in the kitchen that aren't so-called traditional but the results are highly traditional.

    I've also said that for the home-cook to use the traditional method is no big deal, but doing it in a commercial kitchen that makes a living off of risotto is another story. ;)
     
  14. chris.lawrence

    chris.lawrence

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    Hey, now play nice hotpotch! I made my post as simple as possible so that it could be easy to understand-

    1) GOOD restaurants have already cooked there risotto in a batch, it'll stay in the fridge for upto 3 days until needed. This does two things; it means that your risotto is activated with a dollop of stock, cream or wine and ready to go in under five minutes. And it also leaves time for the starches at the centre to crystalise, therefore making the chewy centre more prominant.

    2) I'm not arguing whether or not its possible to make a "creamy" risotto in a pressure cooker, my argument is if you do not remove the softened endosperm (which can only be removed with friction), then the centre may either cook through or can not cook enough, and it has a tendency to break under stress (as there is no structure from your ungelatinised starches). You need those starches to leak out- if you want it creamy, add another ladel of stock before serving.

    3) My point about more flavour is quite clear: If you add less liquid at a time, then it comes into contact with the hot metal for longer, therefore evaporates quicker (compared to simply pouring the right amount of stock in), this means you add more stock for it to cook (it does not take more time) and therefore more flavour is transfered, its like reduction whilst cooking.

    4) Your "Master stock" should not change whilst cooking. This is because there should be no vegetables or meat in there (should already be strained) and it should not be simmering (poaching temps are fine), a slight reduction and concentration of flavours is the only change in the 20 minutes it takes to cook a risotto.

    I don't appreciate being quoted and scrutinised. I am a chef (who has cooked risottos professionally for many years- including in italy) and have a scientific background (both in chemistry and recently in gastronomy).
     
  15. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Everyone's posts, opinions and facts get scrutinized. It's the nature of a forum.

    Don't take it personally.
     
  16. chris.lawrence

    chris.lawrence

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    There are ways of doing it.

    I apologise if I was sharp-tongued.
     
  17. hotchpotch

    hotchpotch

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    Chris,

    I didn’t know I wasn’t playing nice, I’m sorry if I upset you, that was not my intention.

    Remember how I started my post with:

    "As I said originally 2 Chefs will yield 5 opinions about Risotto. :rolleyes:"

    That's true, we can all give our opinion, I am simply giving a different opinion and putting forth the relevant information that I have after 40+ years of experience. I don’t want to trade credentials but if they are important to you I can along with my technical background but argumentum ad verecundiam never had much sway with me.

    Are these the same restaurant that pre-mark their steaks and just store them in the walk-in till needed and then a quick blast in the oven to get it temp and viola, steak. <just kidding> :lol:

    Correct me if I am wrong but earlier you were lamenting all about proper technique,

    And traditional cooking

    No offense but I missed that Risotto class on par-cooking the rice, tossing it on a sheet pan in the walk-in, letting it sit for a couple of days and then re-heating it to order in a bit of stock. Ironically the restaurants that do par-cook the rice rarely stir it consistently or add stock one ladle at a time, they cook it in big batches, dump in the stock and stir a few times then simmer and throw it on a sheet pan to cool. Sure a few might add stock in a couple of batches but most don’t and why should they, they no longer are concerned with traditional cooking. Out of all the methods this is one of the LEAST stirred and least authentic.

    Now I will admit that par-cooked risotto is done by many restaurants, but the term GOOD Risotto is not attached with that technique. These restaurants do so because they 'serve' Risotto on the menu or as a special and don't have the cooking space to make it to order. A short cut that allows the restaurant to serve a popular dish, in this case it helps speed up the final process and gives a mediocre result that the dining public will eat.

    You say you've cooked in Italy, have you been to Risotto restaurants, the ones that employ 2-3 chefs and make 2-4 different Risottos each day. They start when the first customers walk in and 20-30 minutes later Risotto is coming out in batches for people. These are not on the tourist routes but are the real deal. I've been in the back kitchen of one of these learning how they prepare traditional risotto; try telling those chefs to par-cook the rice and they will tell you vafancullo.

    I can take you to two different restaurants near my hometown that specify on their menus that Risotto is cooked to order and takes a minimum of 30 minutes, of course they are known for their Risotto, they don't simply serve risotto like the par-cooked places they specialize in it.

    There is a difference in the final product between a freshly cooked risotto and a par-cooked one. Is it night and day, No, but try to pass of par-cooked risotto in a risotto restaurant in the Veneto region and see if you will be in business for more than a week.



    There is some confusion or semantics missing here. The white part of white rice is ALL endosperm, it contains high amounts of starch, you not exactly removing the endosperm you are extracting starch from the endosperm.

    Here is a picture that details this:



    [​IMG]


    Chris, I admit that my technique that I learned from one of the top Italian Chefs in America and was backed up by professional culinary tours of Italy is not traditional but the results are extremely close and much more consistent than those of par-cooking.

    Now we can all agree to disagree, but what I always challenge everyone to do is to experiment for themselves and find out which method you think makes a superior product. :peace:

    Shalom
     
  18. buonaboy

    buonaboy

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    All of these topics have been touched on, but without the science I can tell you this in all honesty.
    I've been cooking for twenty years, and trained in Italy

    1. Superior risotto MUST be made to order, I've tried every method of "par " cooking it in the past, but, no comparison.

    2. Quality of Arborio matters.

    3. I have seen risotto cooked both ways and, in my opinion (and most Italians I know) constant stirring and the right amount of liquid produces a risotto of velvety creaminess that can make a simple, humble ingredient shine brighter than anything else you eat that night. Or possibly in your life.

    -a perfectly cooked Barolo risotto, topped with some shaved pecorino and good olive oil is what I may ask for on my deathbed, if given the chance.
     
  19. duckfat

    duckfat

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    "I will admit that par-cooked risotto is done by many restaurants, but the term GOOD Risotto is not attached with that technique"


    Some one forgot to send Thomas Keller (and numerous others) the memo that par cooked risotto is not good. See page 88 in The French Laundry cook book.
     
  20. cape chef

    cape chef

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    Some great information being shared here. It shows why our great industry is so diverse and proud. I would caution however that any personal attacks, however subtle should not be posted. Agree to disagree.