The secret to making a fantastic risotto

Last week I created a new dish: Pumpkin Risotto. I was very happy with the result, the flavours where spot on, tasting rich and nurturing because of the roasted pumpkin and the creamy arborio rice cooked perfectly al dente. After serving it to a friend, they asked ‘How do you create a risotto that is not lumpy and sticky I always struggle with this?  Let me share the trick of how to make a delicious creamy, lump-free risotto with you.

The perfect risotto

When I was an apprentice making one of my first risottos, my head chef at the time said a quote that I’ve never forgotten: “a good risotto walks over your plate”. I was not entirely sure what he meant by this at the time. Since becoming a chef, and making many a risottos, I understand how spot on his advice was.  

Let’s start at the beginning.

Every risotto has it little tweaks or steps that need to be done, however the basic rules outlined below will apply to every risotto you will ever make.

Make sure you have a good quality arborio rice. Use a large preferably low saucepan and make sure your stock is boiling hot.

  • Place olive oil in the pan with some finely diced onion/shallot and arborio rice on medium heat
  • Heat this until the arborio rice is translucent – this is very important as the rice needs to be ready for the stock to come into the pan in order to absorb the stock.
  • Place the boiling hot stock on top. Why boiling hot stock? Because it allows the rice to absorb the stock more easily than cold stock. This is what makes the difference between a lumpy risotto and a perfect al dente risotto. If cold stock is used, it will over-cooks the outside of the rice grain and makes it soft, while the inside of the rice remains hard and under cooked.
  • Don’t add all your stock in once! Add one ladle at the time and gently stir the risotto around until it becomes al dente.

So, what does “a good risotto walks over the plate” mean? This is the translation of a Dutch sentence. It means that a great risotto is like lava, when placing it on a plate, it needs to flow out over your plate, rather than remaining dry and still.  To me this means a risotto is perfectly cooked. Try it and see. I am sure with these tips you will be successful in creating a risotto that flows out like lava.

The tips can be applied to any risotto you will ever make – Tomato, Beetroot, Safran, Pumpkin, Mushroom or anything that you can think of.

I hope this helps you to grow your confidence in making delicious risotto. Let me know if you have any questions or other tips you would like to share.

With Love,


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