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How To Make Risotto Ahead of Time

With this technique, that is used by restaurant chefs, you never have to stand at the stove, stirring, for 20 minutes while your guests wonder where you have gone.

You can make any kind of risotto you want using the below method.

A standard recipe of 4 servings uses 5 cups liquid (wine, broth, water, etc.) to 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice.

Prepare your risotto according to your recipe, but use only 3 1/4 cups liquid (reserving the remaining 1 3/4 cups for when you are ready to finish the risotto). Cook on medium-low heat for 16 minutes only according to your recipe.

After 16 minutes, remove the rice from the heat. If you are going to use it within the hour, just slid it to the back of the stove, no heat, and let it sit. If you are making well in advance, place in a shallow baking pan and cover. Refrigerate until ready to serve. The rice can be prepared to this point up to 3 days in advance.

When Ready to Serve:

Remove chilled rice from refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Place the remaining 1 3/4 cups liquid in a wide pot or sauté pan; heat to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add the partially cooked risotto. Stir with a wooden spoon until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is done cooking, approximately 4 to 5 minutes or until rice is tender but still firm (the rice is done when it is tender, but firm to the bite). Turn off the heat and immediately add the remaining butter and Parmesan cheese, stirring vigorously to combine with the rice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Note: To test the risotto for proper consistency, spoon a little into a bowl and shake it lightly from side to side. The risotto should spread out very gently of its own accord. If the rice just stands still, it's too dry, so add a little more stock. If a puddle of liquid forms around the rice, you've added too much stock. Spoon some liquid off, or just let the risotto sit for a few more seconds off the heat to absorb the excess stock.

Transfer risotto to warmed serving bowls and serve immediately with additional freshly grated Parmesan cheese on the side.

Delicious Uses For Leftover Risotto:

  • Make fried rice balls (arancine) by molding risotto into golfball-size pieces. Poke a hole in the ball and fill it with chopped meat or cheese. Seal the hole with rice, roll the rice ball in beaten egg, toss it in flour, and fry.
  • Make rice cakes (tortine de riso) by shaping flat cakes about 3/4 inch thick. Warm some olive oil in a pan and sauté the cakes until golden brown on both sides. Drain any excess oil. Serve as a side dish or a light lunch.
  • Thicken soups or broth with leftover risotto.

Recipe: Risotto with Chives and Truffle Oil

Copyright 2002 Linda Stradley. Linda Stradley originated and maintains an on-line cooking site called What's Cooking America ( The web site is a continuation of her first cookbook also called What's Cooking America, which she co-authored with Andra Cook. She is a member of the Portland Culinary Alliance (PCAJ) and the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). Linda has also appeared on local and national television shows promoting her cookbook and demonstrating her culinary cooking knowledge.

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