Even among talented home cooks, the word “risotto” can produce grimaces and apprehension. The dish has a reputation for being fussy and difficult to execute well. But that’s not necessarily the case, particularly if you have great seasonal produce and a great pan (such as All-Clad’s copper and stainless steel saucier). In fact, this recipe featuring fresh summer corn and bright basil oil is one of our very favorites.
Our test kitchen cook explains how to cook a better risotto in this video featuring All-Clad’s C4 Copper Cookware, but we also break down the most critical points below. What we love about All-Clad’s C4 cookware is that it’s made in the USA, contains alternating layers of 100% pure copper with durable stainless steel for precise heating, producing consistently even results, and superior surface recovery — making it the ideal cookware for making gourmet dishes like risotto.
1. Toast rice and coat it with fats first.
As our pro points out, you want to toast the rice first, coating it in fat, before adding liquid. (In this case, she uses butter and sautéed leeks.)
2. Always heat your liquid.
No matter what sort of stock you use for any risotto, always heat it first. If you use a cold liquid, you’re halting the cooking process mid-stream.
3. Maintain a thin veil of liquid over the rice at all times.
The rule of thumb with risotto is to always have a little bit of liquid melting into the rice, whether you use arborio or something else. Our cook notes that looking for a “thin veil” is a good call; that’s when you know to add more liquid.
4. Remember that it keeps cooking when the heat is turned off.
Trying to nail that classic risotto texture? Just keep in mind that the heat of the dish and the hot burner beneath will keep it cooking even after you shut off the heat source. So if you stop at al dente, then finish it on the hot grate, you should be just about where you want to be.
5. Finish with fresh elements.
Top with something fresh, whether it’s the asparagus and lemon zest here or the bright, punchy corn and basil oil we feature. If you overcook the best of season’s bounty, you won’t taste it as well, and that’d be a shame. Overall, though, risotto is easiest than you might suspect. Give it a whirl and share your tips below!