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Old 06-15-2005, 06:06 PM   #11
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I almost never constantly stir mine, but I do stir it a lot. I will walk away from the stove for a few minutes at a time and come back and stir it a bunch. I think it does need stirring, but your risotto is not doomed if you stop for a half of a second.

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Old 06-15-2005, 10:55 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by ironchef
I'm surprised the the Alton Brown die-hards haven't come out on this one. Has anyone seen his show on rice? Even he said you don't need to constantly stir it.
I can't believe I didn't mention that, ironchef!

I've seen so many great Italian TV cooks/chefs (Lidia Bastianich, Nick Stelino, Bibi Caggiano, Carlo Middione, and the Food Network Italian cooks) prepare risotto - and they all seem to agree ... the "traditional" way is to stir constantly, but you really don't have to for every stage - just "nearly" constantly for the first and final stages, and "very frequently" in between.

For example, in Biba Caggiano's book Trattoria Cooking she "says" to stir constantly - that's the "traditional" or "classic" method. On TV she said when her husband is in the kitchen helping her cook the risotto that is what he does because that is the way his grandmother taught him. But, she mentioned you don't have to stir constantly - they don't in the restaurant, as you noted. But, then again, in a restaurant you're not preparing risotto from scratch one order at a time ... see Harold MeGee's On Food and Cooking - revised edition - bottom of page 475 - "Risotto: Turning Rice into Its Own Sauce".

It appears, and makes sense to me, that you want to stir nearly constantly (every 5-15 seconds) during the early stages - when you first add the rice to the oil to evenly coat and toast (fry) it, when you add the wine as it reduces, and after the first addition of the stock. After that, you can settle back and just stir frequently (every 1-3 minutes) until the final stage (last one or two additions of stock) when the rice is nearly done and the "sauce" is nice and thick (as you noted to prevent burning and sticking).

To paraphrase Biba - you don't need to be intimidated by risotto - but you do need to make it a couple of times to get the hang of it. To quote Biba, "It is only through trial and error that we become accomplished cooks." My first risotto was nothing like it is today. Okay, make that the first "few" ...

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Old 06-16-2005, 09:53 AM   #13
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I agree with Michael again on this one. I should not have said "near constant" in my other post because you really only have to, like he says, devote your total attention to it at the beginning and end. You can definitely multitask in between.

But I will continue to be in the "defense of stirring" camp.

It's crucial to good risotto, IMO.

I did watch (and read) AB on risotto, and I have followed his recommendations, but definitely do not care for the end result of risotto his way over risotto the (i spose) more traditional way you learn from Marcella, Lydia or even Jamie Oliver (he has some fantastic risotto recipes). The texture is just not the same.

I love AB but disagree with him on certain things, like this and the wisdom of aging beef in your home fridge, for example.

Bottom line, though, I still dont think you can put rice ina crock pot and call it risotto.

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