The perfect risotto is elusive. What is the best way to achieve tender, but not mushy rice surrounded by a creamy sauce? Whitney Chen knows; she was in charge of the risotto at Thomas Keller's Per Se, and she shares some of her best tips in an article for Gilt Taste. One stand-out tip is the smear test, an foolproof way to turn out perfectly-cooked risotto.Tasting a rice grain is the best way to check for doneness, but what if you aren't sure what texture you are looking for? Chen recommends using your finger to smear a grain on a smooth surface to check for the correct al dente texture. Undercooked rice will be chunky with a large, white center (see above photo, left), while overcooked rice will be very smooth with no opaque whiteness (above photo, right). What you are looking for is a fairly smooth smear with a little bit of white in the middle, which you can see in the center grain above.
The article includes several more helpful tips on making great risotto, along with a recipe.
Anjali is a former private chef who is currently pursuing a graduate degree in nutrition, with plans to become a registered dietitian. She lives in Los Angeles. You can read more of her health-focused writing at Eat Your Greens.
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