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Risotto keeps coming out brown ?

I had a question I was hoping someone on here might be able to help me with. I've been trying my hand at risottos lately and I seem to be having an issue with the color of them once their done cooking. I'm making a basic parmesan risotto, so nothing fancy, but when it's done cooking, the color of the risotto is always a shade of light to medium brown (almost the color of the stock) instead of "pearly white" as I've heard it's supposed to look.

As far as the cooking process goes, I'm sauteing the onions in olive oil, then I add the arborio rice for a couple of minutes without liquid, adding wine and stirring until it evaporates, and then adding chicken stock, one ladle at a time and cooking until it evaporates, for approx 20-25 min.

Anyone have any ideas what I'm doing wrong ?

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  1. Are you letting the onions brown? Are you actually toasting rather than just coating the rice...is the rice getting browned before you add liquid? Either one of those things could mean a brown risotto with a toasted flavor, not classic but if it tastes good to you no problem. Could you be adding your cheese early enough that it is getting browned? Is your stock very dark, thus coloring the risotto? You haven't mentioned the final flavor....are you happy with it?

    1. I think that unless you have a virtually clear or colorless stock, the end result will never be pearly white. Your method sounds fine.

      I always use roasted bones and lots of veg and aromatics in making my stock, so it is always pretty dark, and so is the resulting risotto.

      1. Thanks for the responses !

        To answer your questions:
        * The onions don't appear to be browning, nor do I believe the rice is toasting
        * The rice isn't brown before the stock is added, it's more of a gradual darkening, the more stock I add
        * I don't add the cheese until the very end, off the heat
        * The stock is store-bought, usually Kitchen Basics Chicken Stock, so it doesn't seem unusually dark to me
        * Final flavor hasn't been exactly what I want/hoping for (a little bland), but I have a feeling that might be due more to the cheese and not the stock or cooking method. I'm going to pick up a higher quality parmesan from the store on my way home and try that.

        9 Replies
        1. re: GRNichol

          Homemade stock is the difference between good and great risotto IMHO. I also find it important to salt the risotto as I go so it gets seasoned all the way through. Finish with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and black pepper.

          1. re: GRNichol

            I make my risottos with Pecorino Romano...results in much better flavor than parmesan, at least to me.

            1. re: The Professor

              I prefer Grana Padano first; a second would be Pecorino Romano, and third would be Parm Regg. I don't find parmiagiano Reggiano to be the best for everything. In fact since I've found both Grana P and Pec Romano years ago, I've come to prefer them in most all dishes calling for Parm Regg.

              1. re: Rella

                I third the vote for Pecorino Romano or Grana Padano over Parm - much better tastes and if you want a whitish risotto stay away from black pepper and use white instead.

            2. re: GRNichol

              When I've used Kitchen Basics stock, my rice always turns brown. I've taken to diluting it for this very reason. The stock doesn't look that dark when you first pour it, but if you look closely, the color is very... dense, for lack of a better way to describe it. You can barely see through it.

              1. re: GRNichol

                Your problem with the dark color is entirely due to the Kitchen Basics stock, which is way too full of things other than chicken broth, IMO. Try using a different stock; I get great results with Trader Joe's low sodium chicken broth. If you can't get that, Pacific chicken stock also works well.

                1. re: bitchincook

                  Thanks for the replies everyone, I'll give it a shot with a different stock and see how it goes !

                  1. re: GRNichol

                    I normally use whole foods low sodium stock. It's price point compares favorably with everybody's stock. It is much lighter in color and will not brown out. Good luck!