Thumbing through an old back issue of Bon Appétit, we found our answer. The editors sampled recipes for stirred risotto and "quick n' easy" no-stir risotto and compared the results. The verdict? It depends on what you like!
Risotto made in the traditional way turns out silky and luscious. Adding the broth one cup at a time and waiting for it to be absorbed helps the starch from the rice dissolve into the sauce, turning it creamy. Every grain of rice is also perfectly cooked and all the flavors mingle together as one.
No-stir recipes where all the broth is added at once don't wind up with the same sauce-like consistency. The editors of Bon Appétit say they turn out more like pilaf (or, we'd say, a creamy casserole). It's still full of flavor and definitely a fine method to use if you don't want to be tied to the stove, but the results aren't nearly the same.
Both methods are definitely edible and have their own merits, so it comes down to what you have time for and what you like.
What do you think?
(Image: Nina Callaway)