Basic Risotto

Arborio Rice

Arborio Rice

by Cat, Nov 2007 (photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons; and below from Wikimedia Commons)

See also: 1. White Rice; 2. Steamed Brown Rice; 3. Sides & Condiments Menu

Risotto is a wonderful way to prepare rice – cooked slowly, adding a little bit of water at a time to generate that wonderful creamy texture.  Traditionally it is made with a short grain rice called Arborio, from Spain, which makes the creamiest rice.  In a pinch, other short grain rice can be used.  Long grain rice will not produce a very creamy product, but will still taste good.

The best rice to use for risotto

White Arborio makes the creamiest product, brown Arborio is more healthful, especially if you presoak it overnight. I’ve not seen brown Arborio in stores. Indian Harvest (4)  carries a specialty brown short-grain rice with a “glutinous texture [that] makes it perfect for applications calling for a stickier rice (can be used similarly to Arborio and Carnaroli rices).

This is such a special side dish, if a bit of a challenge to make. I don’t make it often and when I do, I use white Arborio. The mark of a perfect risotto is a creamy texture with just a tiny tad of bite, like pasta al dente.

Perhaps the most well known risotto is Risotto Milanese, which is flavored with threads of saffron.  But many other variations abound. See Risotto recipes or Sides & Condiments Menu for risotto recipes on this site..



Keys to Risotto Success

  • Using a heavy-bottomed pan, for even heat distribution;
  • Getting all the rice grains coated with the hot butter/oil before adding liquid;
  • Keeping your liquid hot and adding it slowly;
  • Using moderate heat while adding the liquid.

Basic Risotto

This recipe is from a bag of Arborio rice, and makes 12 cups of risotto – quite a lot.  You could cut the recipe in half or quarter, but the amount of liquid doesn’t translate so easily, so be careful in your additions toward the end.

The type of broth used depends on what you will be serving with the rice. I especially like to use my homemade Fish Stock or Broth when serving with poached salmon or baked cod. Chicken Stock or Vegetable Broth are both rather generic and work well when serving the rice with chicken, veal or pork. I’ve never made it with Beef Stock.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 pounds Arborio rice
  • 1 ½ cups dry white wine (such as vermouth)
  • 2 ½ quarts hot homemade Chicken Stock or mineral Vegetable Broth, or hot water
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Unrefined sea salt, to taste
  • Equipment:
  • large stock pot


  1. Heat oil in large stock pot, add chopped onion, and saute until translucent, stirring frequently.
  2. Add rice and continue to saute while stirring for an additional 2 minutes.
  3. Add wine and stir for 1 minute.
  4. Start adding stock/broth, ¼ cup at a time, and stirring, allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding the next bit of broth.  This takes patience, but well worth it.
  5. Test for texture toward the end of the broth additions; every batch of rice absorbs liquid differently.
  6. Stir in grated cheese and butter.  Add salt to taste (NOTE: Unrefined sea salt, as other coarse-grain salt, takes awhile to dissolve, so allow adequate dissolve time before tasting.


  1. A bag of Arborio rice
  2. Vegetarian Epicure, by Anna Thomas
  3. A Passion for Vegetables, by Vera Gewanter
  4. Indian Harvest, online source of Arborio rice:

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