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Marcella Hazan uses only meat broth for risotto. I don't really get that.

I have her "Essentials" book out and am fixing a risotto tomorrow. Since she has a chapter on that I gave it a glance and every recipe call for "meat broth." In the intro to the chapter she states "Pure chicken broth becomes distractingly sharp, and so does stock produced in the French manner. Neither is a desirable vehicle for cooking risotto." I admit to being rather taken aback by that. I've only made risotto a half dozen times or so but have only ever used chicken broth. I believe I've read here that some use water. But I'd not heard of meat broth (she doesn't use bones just beef and veal and a very little chicken). She's one of my heroes. I was about to take some of my precious homemade chicken stock out of the freezer but she's gotten me to wondering. Does anyone have any opinions or experience along these lines. Thanks.

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  1. I believe, by the words "pure chicken broth", she means that a broth (stock) used in risotto needs to be mildly flavored and not overpowering. I dilute my chicken stock and/or meat stock by about 1 part stock to two parts water. But I think it's better to do this separately and taste it before introducing it to the risotto.

    1 Reply
    1. re: todao

      That's a really excellent thought. Mine has no seasoning in it but it IS quite chickeny. I DO want it to taste like risotto not chicken. Thanks so much.

    2. I do about the same as todao, if I use stock at all! I too find the "chickeny" taste unpleasant and overpowering if I use it full strength -- imagine my surprise the first time I made risotto with my homemade chicken stock, expecting a rich, wonderful flavor and ending up with porridgey, tasteless glop. Very disappointing.

      1. I cut my stock (chicken, shrimp, lobster, beef, veal, lamb, pork, or roasted veg) 50/50 with water when making risotto. I think this is something you need to play around with to see what you like. I had a wonderful seafood risotto in Italy that had an intense flavor from a mixed seafood stock. I loved it.

        1. I wound up cutting it 50/50 and was pleased with the result. I'm really glad I saw her preference. Then I looked at Batali and he was totally chicken stock :) Chefs!

          1. As far as I am concerned, C. O., meat broth is the only broth. Chicken, because of its distractingly pungent aroma and sour taste has not been, for some time, in my opinion, a suitable ingredient for broth of any kind. Nor by beef broth do I mean dark stock in the French manner made with roasted meat scraps and bones. Broth should be a retiring handmaiden forwarding the flavors of the principal ingredients of the dish wherein it appears. It is just a medium, it is not the message. The only exception is a brodo ristretto, a consomme', a reduced broth in which you might serve passatelli or tortellini.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Polini

              If your chicken broth has a sour taste, you might want to try a new recipe. Something's not right.

              1. re: Polini

                Welcome to Chowhound and thanks, Polini! As you can see, this is a passionate group even about broth for risotto :) You write quite eloquently and I look forward to reading more of your thoughts.