Risotto is a hard dish to master because the process is so precise. That’s why we love La Dolce Vita risotto from the Italy Box—all you need to do is cook the rice and seasonings with water, and you’ll have a perfectly creamy and delicious preparation. If you’re ready for the challenge of making your own from scratch, we’ve laid out the basics for you here. And once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to swap out any combination of grain, vegetable, and cheese.
STEP 1: MISE EN PLACE
Risotto requires constant attention and stirring, so it’s best to have every ingredient ready before getting started. This step is called the mise en place (“everything in its place”). To make your risotto, you’ll need:
- Fat, such as butter or olive oil
- Chopped aromatics: usually onion and garlic (other vegetables, such as leeks and scallions, work well too)
- Spices and herbs: sage, rosemary, and ground fennel are all great choices
- Arborio or carnaroli rice
- Dry white wine
- Warmed stock: chicken, beef, or vegetable work well
Note: For the best possible texture, cut all ingredients to about the same size as a grain of rice.
STEP 2: SOFFRITO
Begin by heating a large pot over moderate heat. Add the butter or olive oil, then the aromatics. Add the vegetables and spices, and cook until the aromatics are translucent and fragrant, about 4 minutes.
STEP 3: TOSTATURA
Once the aromatics are translucent, stir in the rice and toast 1 to 2 minutes. Toasting the rice deepens the flavor and adds texture to the rice.
STEP 4: DEGLAZE
Deglaze the pan to pick up the flavorful bits that may be stuck to the bottom by adding a bit of wine and scraping the bottom of the pan. Then allow the liquid to reduce until it’s almost dry.
STEP 5: COTTURA
Add 1 ladleful warm stock. Once the liquid is absorbed, continue adding the stock 1 ladleful at a time until the rice is cooked and the risotto is free-flowing and creamy, about 20 minutes. It should move in a wave-like manner (called la onda) when a spoon is dragged through the rice. Once the risotto is cooked, taste and season with salt.
Note: It’s imperative to add the stock little by little and stir constantly because this is what makes risotto creamy: when the grains rub against each other, they release their starch. With too much liquid and not enough stirring, there won’t be enough friction between the grains.
STEP 6: MANTECATURA
For the final step, whip 1 to 2 tablespoons butter and a ½ cup to 1 cup grated cheese (preferably Parmigiano Reggiano) into the risotto. If the risotto becomes too dry, add some warm stock to keep it creamy and moist, then serve immediately—the risotto will seize up and lose its creaminess soon after it’s finished cooking.
Good luck and enjoy!