Why You Should Add Stock To Risotto Slowly, According To Lidia Bastianich

Cooking rice, as most people will know, is a simple, straightforward affair. As long as you keep the grain-to-water ratio (generally 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of water) in mind, all you need to do is bring the water to a boil, add the rice grains, check after a specific amount of time, fluff, and serve, per Delish

But the same cannot be said of risotto, which needs a bit more TLC. As celebrity chef and restauranteur Lidia Bastianich tells Epicurious, risotto "is all about technique."

To make a good risotto, Bastianich calls for a ratio of 1 cup of rice to 3 cups of liquid, which will give you two cups of risotto. But she also stresses it's important to add liquids to rice slowly because she describes the grain as "thirsty, it's going to pull [the liquid] right in."

Instead of water, risotto calls for a good soup stock that needs to be heated thoroughly and added slowly. She says: "...if you insert a lot of water here, that's when the rice will open up because there's so much liquid. And you'll lose your al dente kernel."

Always cook risotto on a low simmer

British chef and cookbook author Jamie Oliver echoes Bastianich's comments about how, and how much, soup stock to add to risotto. He advises cooking risotto on a low, simmering heat, and adding the stock one ladle at a time, giving the rice time to fully absorb the liquid and flavors. 

He also warns against two things: adding too much stock, and keeping your pan on the heat for too long. Both, he says, will have the unintended consequence of "overcook[ing] the risotto ... it should be fat and tender on the outside but still have a little bite in the center."

Bastianich has one more piece of advice for serving up a memorable risotto meal, and that's to serve the dish as soon as it is cooked. "You can't leave it — pasta, risotto — I remember we used to get called to the table and the saying was that if you don't come in time, the risotto will wait for you at the door. Meaning that it grows," she said, per Epicurious.