You can cook risotto in a pressure cooker, but should you?


You can fuss up risotto with flavor-packed meats or pristine seafood, but it’s important to note that the dish consists mostly of rice and stock. While everyday ingredients, these two need a little coaxing before they transform into the comforting Italian dish. Just tossing rice and stock in a pot, and leaving them to cook, will result in some fine rice, but you won’t have risotto. Risotto requires technique.

To start, saute high-starch varieties of rice like arborio or carnaroli with some oil until each grain is chalky white. Stock is patiently added one ladle at time, and stirred until the liquid is absorbed before adding more. Only then will you end up with something completely different: distinct grains of rice enveloped in an astonishingly creamy sauce. This transformation is all the more amazing considering cream never enters the pot. 

The only downside? The tedious act of ladling in the stock can take anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes. Try to speed things up, and you could end up with a pot of mush, which, I shouldn’t have to point out, is not risotto. So even though risotto is made mostly of humble, everyday ingredients, it’s the opposite of a weeknight meal. 

Or that’s what I thought until I learned to make risotto in an electric pressure cooker. 

For the past few years, I’ve shunned almost all of that stirring, instead relying on an electric pressure cooker to do all of the heavy-lifting. Luckily, cooking rice is one of the abilities of the trendy Instant Pot, not to mention being a one-pot dish. It’s one of those rare occasions when the easier, faster way might actually tastes better too. 

Here’s how it works in the pressure cooker: Saute a chopped onion until translucent, about five minutes. Add the arborio or carnaroli rice, and saute, stirring occasionally, until the grains look chalky white. Then add all the broth, stir once, close the lid and set to high pressure for five minutes. Once it’s done, manually release the pressure, and then open the lid. 

It will look as though you’ve made a terrible mistake. The broth will have pooled on the top of the rice, looking more like a failed rice soup than risotto. But give it a stir, and the liquid will distribute back into the rice, and you’ll end up with a beautifully creamy risotto, one in which the rice grains are distinct and toothsome. 

No standing over the stove with ladle in hand, watching liquid slowly evaporate from a pot. No wondering if you should add another 1/2 cup of liquid, while the clock ticks. Just set the time and walk away. 

I should note that I prefer my risotto to be a bit looser than some. Instead of maintaining its shape after you scoop some into a bowl, this risotto will slowly flatten out over a minute. That said, it shouldn’t be soupy. But if you like yours a little stiffer, all you need to do is press the saute button on your electric pressure cooker after you release the pressure, and cook for an extra minute or so. 

This technique works with any kind of risotto you prefer, whether you incorporate earthy mushrooms or juicy sweet chunks of shrimp to the rice. But before you go wild, it’s best to nail the basics. My favorite is risotto alla Milanese, a relatively stripped-down classic that gets its gorgeous golden color from a spoonful of saffron. 

——— 

RISOTTO ALLA MILANESE IN THE PRESSURE COOKER 

Prep: 20 minutes 

Cook: 30 minutes 

Makes: 4 servings 

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 

1 medium onion, chopped 

2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice 

1/2 cup dry white wine 

4 1/2 cups chicken stock 

1 large pinch saffron threads 

1 tablespoon butter 

Handful grated Parmesan cheese 

Kosher salt 

Freshly ground black pepper 

1. Select the saute setting on the pressure cooker. Pour in olive oil, and when it’s hot, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add rice and stir until rice turns a chalky white, about 3 minutes. 

2. Pour in white wine, and stir until the liquid evaporates. Add all of the stock and the saffron. Stir well. Cover pot, select high pressure and 5 minutes. (It will take 5 to 10 minutes for it to come up to pressure.) When finished, immediately release the pressure manually. 

3. It will look as if there is a lot of liquid in the pot, but stir well, and it will evenly distribute. Add the butter, most of the Parmesan, a good pinch of salt and black pepper. Taste and add more salt, if necessary. Serve with a sprinkling of the remaining Parmesan. 

Nutrition information per serving: 427 calories, 10 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 8 mg cholesterol, 76 g carbohydrates, 2 g sugar, 7 g protein, 642 mg sodium, 2 g fiber


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Cooking and Recipes

Grilled cheese sure to please
Grilled cheese sure to please

Whether it’s a classic ham and cheese on rye or a tower of donuts sandwiched with Nutella and whipped cream cheese, the world of grilled cheese sandwiches is unlimited. Don’t confine yourself to a slice of American between two slices of white bread. Anything’s fair game. You can add proteins like chicken, pork meatballs or sausage...
Eggplant dips from Morningside Kitchen packed with flavor
Eggplant dips from Morningside Kitchen packed with flavor

From the menu… Morningside Kitchen, 1397 N. Highland Ave. NE., Atlanta. 404-347-9747. www.facebook.com/pg/MorningsideKitchenAtlanta I brunched with friends and ordered Morningside Kitchen’s “Trio of Cool Dips.” They were all delicious but both eggplant dips were outstanding, served with pita from Alon’s, I believe. Would...
EXCLUSIVE: One Midtown Kitchen to close next month
EXCLUSIVE: One Midtown Kitchen to close next month

The interior of One Midtown Kitchen / Photo courtesy of One Midtown Kitchen A longtime Midtown eatery is closing its doors next month. One Midtown Kitchen will close at 559 Dutch Valley Rd NE on March 4, according to statement released by Concentrics Restaurants. “In the spirit of being passionate pioneers in the restaurant and hospitality...
Get details on Braise, Pinewood Forest’s first restaurant tenant
Get details on Braise, Pinewood Forest’s first restaurant tenant

Chefs Tanya Jimenez and Michael Le A high-profile mixed-use development that has the allure of being next to one of the biggest movie studios in the country has announced details about its first restaurant tenant. Set to open in south metro Atlanta in Pinewood Forest in late 2019 , Braise will serve...
Is it ‘natural’? Consumers, and lawyers, want to know
Is it ‘natural’? Consumers, and lawyers, want to know

In recent years, one bright spot in an otherwise lackluster market for packaged foods, beverages and consumers products has been merchandise promoted as “natural.” Consumers, increasingly wary of products that are overly processed or full of manufactured chemicals, are paying premium prices for natural goods, from fruit juices and cereals...
More Stories