Ever wonder how restaurants serve risotto so fast? The secret is that the rice is pre-cooked. I've made risotto in restaurants for over 15 years working under 3 different chefs from Italy, so I know a thing or two I can share with you.
I love risotto and view it as a wonderful vehicle for leftovers and as a way to showcase particular ingredients and relive classic dishes, like Risotto Sbiraglia and Risotto Milanese.
If you've ever wondered how fancy Italian restaurants serve risotto so quickly, it's because the restaurant is pre-cooking and cooling their risotto before service.
Pre-cooking the rice gives more control to the chef, helping them make sure the rice is done perfectly, and neither over or undercooked.
At every restaurant I've worked at that serves risotto, we would do this by pre cooking your risotto rice with a bit of onion, wine, water or stock and pinch of salt, and I do it now in my restaurant.
For home cooks this can mean the difference between standing in front of the stove stirring and sweating, and relaxing and chatting with guests or your family. When the risotto rice is par cooked, it's effortless to put together-a chef's trick you can keep to yourself. Here's how to do it.
How to Par-Cook Risotto Rice
First, you cook a small amount of diced onion in olive oil and cook until translucent.
Next you add the risotto rice and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring to coat the rice with oil.
After a few minutes you add a splash of wine. If you need to, you can skip it and just add stock or broth.
After the wine is added you'll begin adding ladles of hot stock, about 6 oz at a time.
Wait until the stock has been absorbed before adding another ladle.
When the rice has absorbed about half of the total cooking liquid (about 2 cups) it will be roughly half cooked.
Next the rice is spread on a baking sheet or tray to cool. Cut grooves in the rice with a spatula to help steam escape.
Store your pre-cooked risotto rice in the fridge in a sealed container until you need it for whatever risotto you're making.
How to tell when the rice is done
You want the rice more than half way cooked, but it should still remain bit raw in the middle. The outer portion of the rice kernel will be softened, but the inside will still have raw, bright white, when cut in half by a knife.
When risotto is precooked to the perfect doneness, you get more control over the texture of the rice, it will have a few minutes of cooking time left in it when reheated.
Types of risotto rice
Another trick is making sure you have the correct type of rice, only one of the following 5 should be used to make risotto.
- Superfino Arbori
- Vialone Nao
- Mushroom Risotto with Lemon and Herbs
- Dried Mushroom Risotto
- White Risotto with Cauliflower Mushroom Ragu
Precooked Risotto Rice
- 1 3 quart soup pot
- 1 wooden spoon
- 1 baking sheet
- 1 cup rice type of your choice for true risotto Choose from one of the above types
- 2 tablespoon butter or oil
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ cup white or yellow onion diced small
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 4 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, etc you will need only 2 cups to par-cook the rice
Pre-Cook the Rice
- Sweat the butter and onion together with a pinch of salt until the onion is translucent, then add the rice, and stir to coat the grains with fat, cooking until they are a bit translucent on the outside, about 2-3 minutes, then add the wine and cook until it has almost all evaporated.
- Now, add a ½ cup of water to the pan at a time, and continue to cook and stir until it is incorporated, then add a new ladle of water to prevent the pan from scorching. Keep doing this until the rice is soft on the outside, but still raw and very chewy in the middle, about ten minutes.
- When the rice is precooked to your liking, immediately spread it out on a wide surface, then score with a wooden spoon in a cross-hatch pattern it to help it cool even faster.
Finishing and Serving the Risotto
- To finish and serve, put the pre-cooked rice in a pan and begin adding stock again. Continue to cook, adding liquid or stock as necessary until the rice is very hot, and tender, but not mushy, about 5 minutes depending on how far you take your risotto rice in the previous method.
- Stir in 3 tablespoon of butter and ½ cup of grated Grana Padano, Parmigiano Reggiano, or another grated parmesan.