To stir or not to stir ... that's the question, certainly with risotto...

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by chrisbelgium, Mar 6, 2011.

  1. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

    Messages:
    2,270
    Likes Received:
    206
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    Do risottos need to be stirred all the time or not?

    I love making risotto and I will not change my method, unless I'm doing something fundamentally wrong, such as the stirring. I stir all the time. However, I always kind of fold big spoonfulls of rice instead of beating the rice around.

    Some sources advise to stir all the time. One of them is Giorgio Locatelli. I saw him last week again pointing at "some renowned chefs in the UK who say risotto doesn't need to be stirred" as opposed to him, being authentic Italian and his grandmother of 80+ who always stirred risotto. I'm kind of in Locatelli's camp...

    Some say that stirring cause the grains to rub against each other, releasing just enough starch to make the risotto creamy. Good point imo!

    There's also this young Italian cook in my own country who has his very own vision. Mind you, he's somewhat of an "enfant terrible" and very outspoken.

    He stirs all the time, but, more in the beginning than at the end. Reason given; at the beginning the ricegrains are solid and stirring will do them no harm. Further in the cooking process, the grains become softer and could break and release too much starch, which may turn the risotto mushy. I think he also has a good point!

    There's also another camp that says; put all the broth in and don't stir. Raymond Blanc does it and suggest to only stir at the end, which -dixit Blanc- makes also a creamy risotto...

    Here I agree with Locatelli. His remark on this method; "It's no risotto..." (you need to add a sarcastic smile on Locatelli's face)

    What' your preference?

    Maybe another question too. The young Italian I just mentioned, also uses... spanish bomba rice. According to him with very good result.

    Locatelli prefers carnaroli or vialone. He advises not to use arborio in risotto because it contains too much starch and is better fit for rice puddings!

    And what's your favorite kind of rice to make risotto?  
     
  2. chefedb

    chefedb

    Messages:
    5,516
    Likes Received:
    177
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    I always stir with a wooden spoon. As far as rubbing grains together ??

    I use arborio and  always have, so have 4 out of 5 of places I worked.. I do rinse my rice first to rinse off some starch. I can't recall having problems but then I am not Italian.
     
  3. chefross

    chefross

    Messages:
    2,752
    Likes Received:
    398
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    I use Carnarolli and stir from beginning to end. I always stir when fist sauteeing then when adding the wine and then the stock. I was under the impression that not stirring will cause some of the kernels not to cook all the way through
     
  4. panini

    panini

    Messages:
    5,168
    Likes Received:
    283
    Exp:
    Owner/Operator
    Chris,

      I'm on the sweet side so take this with a grain of salt.

    When we lived over the business with my Grandmother she always called Pop when it was time to make

    risotto. He stirred in the beginning and switched to swirling and flipping towards the end. By flip I mean the technique of flipping the pan as you would when you sautee vegies or something. I can't remember exactly why because of the language but it had to do with the risotto  skinning over before we ate  if you used the spoon all the way.

    For what's it's worth. I do the same today but use a spoon every once in a while to make sure I'm not burning. I use Arborio
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2011
  5. petalsandcoco

    petalsandcoco

    Messages:
    3,207
    Likes Received:
    156
    Exp:
    Private Chef
    Chris,

    I personally use Arborio. Stir from beginning to end with a few flips in between. When I first saw your post it reminded me of Kevin's post awhile back and I learned something new and thought I would re-post....just thought the read might be of interest.....

    Risotto non-stir method  

     
  6. granny smith

    granny smith

    Messages:
    153
    Likes Received:
    14
    Exp:
    At home cook
    I use Arborio. I stir at the beginning and kind of fold near the end.
     
  7. pcieluck

    pcieluck

    Messages:
    369
    Likes Received:
    12
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    I remember the first time I made risotto. I was so proud because it looked picture perfect and tasted spot on. I take a picture and put it on FB and someone trolled me right away. "No way that was worth stirring for a half hour straight!"

    Fact was, though, that I barely fussed with it at all, and I still don't. When it's simmering, only give it a quick gentle stir after adding more stock. However when it's almost done and i'm adjusting seasonings and adding things, i'm constantly stirring, tasting, adjusting. Maybe i've gotten lucky, but I never rinse either, and I"m yet to get any grainy starchy feel to it.  
     
  8. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

    Messages:
    7,379
    Likes Received:
    612
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    I guess it depends on how you like your risotto.  I was watching Top Chef All-stars and Trey got sent home for making a risotto that was too stiff.  I guess that's the way he likes it, but the judges were adamant about how the risotto should "spread" when you put it on a plate.  I like that but I like my risotto to be soft and very starchy.  No al dente rice for me.  I find that it doesn't need much stirring though to achieve this.  I stir mostly in the beginning and then just occasionally.  Let it do it's thing, I don't have to nurse it.
     
  9. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

    Messages:
    2,270
    Likes Received:
    206
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    After reading these posts and also the previous thread that Petals pointed at, I would conclude that making risotto has everything to do with how we all learned it and kept performing our very own method. I dought wether there's a foolproof method that would overrule any other method, originally Italian or not. But, let's be honest, I guess our Italian friends have the benefit of the dought since they invented risotto.

    Even Italians may not agree with each other when it comes to the viscosity of risotto. Many times in cooking programs I watch contestants try to put risotto on their plates using a serving ring and make a tower of rice... To me that's not a risotto. You can't make a tower with risotto imo. That may expand the discussion how "all onda"(flowing) a risotto should be. There's one certainty; a risotto is eaten with a fork, not a spoon.

    Also, should a risotto be al dente or soft? How long should the cooking time be? I never timed it, but it takes me around 30 minutes to cook a risotto with carnaroli, from start (sweating onion a couple of minutes) to the end (including a short resting period).

    Personally I have tried arborio, carnaroli and spanish bomba. Not too many differences between all of them. I now have a package of arborio open, but, carnaroli seems to keep the most "bite" imo and gives the best almost glossy creamyness at the same time.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2011
  10. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

    Messages:
    2,270
    Likes Received:
    206
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    That's also my opinion on finishing risotto; keep on tasting/adjusting it! I even start tasting just over halfway the cooking time, only to watch how the "bite" evolves.

    I also never rinse to eleminate starch. I don't see the point of rinsing since a risotto needs that starch to get creamy! Stirring risotto rubs the grains onto each other, which causes more starch to be released. At least, that's what I have learned and it certainly convinces me of the necessity of the stirring... I'm just not sure how much stirring is needed.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2011
  11. chefedb

    chefedb

    Messages:
    5,516
    Likes Received:
    177
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    Chris !  The rice you buy in the local market is probably a better quality then we buy commercially. A lot of places uy by price alone.Our 50# bags are starchy thats why I rinse it off. Home I buy a vac. packed quality rice and don't have to rinse it. most of the time I tell buy picking up a handful then putting it back and then looking at my hand.
     
  12. indianwells

    indianwells

    Messages:
    309
    Likes Received:
    12
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    I stir all the time and use Carnaroli as that was the way I was taught. My first risotto many years ago turned out perfectly using this method  and has done ever since so the way I see it is...why change?
     
  13. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,546
    Likes Received:
    510
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    Cook's Illustrated espouses an occasional stir.

    I'm a fan of the pressure cooker method for risotto. Very fast and no stirring. Good results.
     
  14. pxatkins

    pxatkins

    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    14
    Exp:
    Other
    Use science: make it both ways and check out the results. So many books repeat errors from elsewhere. How many times have you heard the pepper myth that the seeds are where the most heat is? 
     
  15. pcieluck

    pcieluck

    Messages:
    369
    Likes Received:
    12
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    worth mentioning, I tend not to stir so much partly because of the big bouquet garni i have in it. I don't want to break it and have bits of twig all over the place.
     
  16. dc sunshine

    dc sunshine

    Messages:
    2,753
    Likes Received:
    16
    Exp:
    Other
    As has been said, try it both ways, find your preference.  But, I like to stick with adding hot stock a bit at a time until it's aborbed enough to get the right balance.  Practice makes perfect.  Ok, most of the time unless the phone rings :D

    Phatch, I'm wondering if the pressure cooking method isn't more like a pilaf?  I am probably completely wrong, but it's just a thought. I actually have no idea of this method to be quite honest, so forgive me for my lack of knowledge here.
     
  17. chefross

    chefross

    Messages:
    2,752
    Likes Received:
    398
    Exp:
    Former Chef

    Funny you should have brought that up Phatch. Last night I made herb and Parmesan risotto as an appetizer at work and while stirring the mixture over the stove I had my Cooks Illustrated in my other hand and read the article from March/April of 1993. It concurs.
     
  18. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

    Messages:
    7,379
    Likes Received:
    612
    Exp:
    Home Cook

     Might it be easier to put the bouquet garni in the stock instead of the rice?  Nobody likes to eat twigs.
     
  19. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,546
    Likes Received:
    510
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    The. Pressure cooker method looks like a pilaf technique but the results aren't like that at all.
     
  20. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

    Messages:
    2,270
    Likes Received:
    206
    Exp:
    Home Cook

    Phatch, I was wondering about this pressure cooker method how to estimate the right degree of softness of the rice. In fact, a "handmade" risotto takes all-in about 30 minutes, but cooking rice in a pressure cooker must be just a fraction of that cooking time?