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Making risotto vs. fresh pasta

ttoommyy Feb 1, 2012 05:58 AM

A coworker and I were discussing cooking for upcoming dinner parties we are respectively having. He was talking about making fresh pappardelle with a mushroom ragu and asked me for an alternative that would also use mushrooms. I suggested a porcini risotto, which I make often. He didnt seem too enthusiastic about this and later admitted to having never made a risotto. He is an accomplished home cook and really knows his food. I was surprised. Of course I had to then confess that I absolutely hate making fresh pasta.

This got me to thinking. While I know a lot of people are "afraid" of making risotto because of the constant stirring (myth) and the long cooking time (another myth) I can whip up a risotto in my sleep, so to speak. In fact, it is my go to dish when I don't know what to make and want something relatively quick. I hardly even use a recipe anymore. The thought of making fresh pasta though? I dread it and therefore have stopped making it. I find it tedious and it never really comes out as silky and tender as that which I can buy at a place that specializes in fresh pasta. I know this all depends on one's skill level and comfort zone. In reality, one is probably not that much more difficult than the other.

So, where are you on this? Camp Risotto or Camp Fresh Pasta? Maybe both? Or maybe neither?

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  1. chowser RE: ttoommyy Feb 1, 2012 06:20 AM

    I think risotto is easier but you can't make it in advance so timing is a problem. You can taste it as it cooks so it generally turns out fine. Pasta OTOH, I don't taste along the line. But, it can be made ahead of time and cooked last minute so that makes it easier in that respect. Good fresh pasta can be easily bought. Does that make me Camp Risotto, Camp Pasta, neither or both? FWIW, i think my risotto is better than my pasta.

    1. c
      ChiliDude RE: ttoommyy Feb 1, 2012 06:38 AM

      Mi piace risotto! E' molto semplice a preparare.

      1. mattstolz RE: ttoommyy Feb 1, 2012 06:42 AM

        i think theyre about the same level of difficulty and similar level of reward for the amount of work ya have to put in.

        i end up making pasta a little more often though, because i end up having flour, eggs, and such around more often than good risotto rice and stock

        3 Replies
        1. re: mattstolz
          katecm RE: mattstolz Feb 1, 2012 12:23 PM

          I think I agree with you. I also like to get my pasta dough mixed and resting when people arrive, and then over cocktails, everyone gets to learn how to use the pasta roller and toss the pasta into nests. Since most people I know had never done it before, they really enjoy being able to contribute and get comfortable with it. Whereas risotto is somehow more formal to me. Something you keep an eye on quietly and then serve with a bit of a flourish!

          1. re: katecm
            escondido123 RE: katecm Feb 1, 2012 12:30 PM

            If I'm having an informal dinner in the kitchen, I get out my electric skillet and use that to make the risotto. It allows me to stand at the island and face the table and continue to visit--if I use the stove my side is to the table and farther away.

            1. re: escondido123
              mattstolz RE: escondido123 Feb 1, 2012 04:51 PM

              i will do something similar if i'm having people over, except ill just make it in the oven!

        2. b
          bitchincook RE: ttoommyy Feb 1, 2012 12:32 PM

          In my house, we've divided and conquered. My husband has mastered the art of making fresh pasta. I make risotto. This is as good a reason for staying married as any other :-)

          1 Reply
          1. re: bitchincook
            ttoommyy RE: bitchincook Feb 1, 2012 12:36 PM

            I agree bitchin! My partner, who does not normally do the cooking, is the one who will make fresh pasta in our house (the rare times it is made in house).

          2. linguafood RE: ttoommyy Feb 1, 2012 12:36 PM

            While I pretty much prefer any fresh pasta dish over any risotto, I'd say risotto is *much* less work. Making fresh pasta is freakin' involved.

            Risotto? 20 minutes and you're done.

            1 Reply
            1. re: linguafood
              RetiredChef RE: linguafood Feb 1, 2012 05:41 PM

              What you said.

            2. n
              niquejim RE: ttoommyy Feb 1, 2012 06:31 PM

              I would make gnocchi, so I guess that means I would do pasta

              1 Reply
              1. re: niquejim
                ttoommyy RE: niquejim Feb 2, 2012 06:01 AM

                Ah gnocchi! Another bane of my existence. Love, love, love to eat them but hate, hate, hate to make them from scratch.

              2. paulj RE: ttoommyy Feb 1, 2012 06:32 PM

                But the real question is, if you served your risotto to Wolfgang, would he take you behind the woodshed and give you threshing?


                1 Reply
                1. re: paulj
                  RetiredChef RE: paulj Feb 2, 2012 08:47 AM

                  That's hilarious - One of the worst Risotto's I have ever had in a restaurant was at the original Spago's on the Sunset Strip in the late 80's when Puck was still in the kitchen. One of my dining partners, another chef, made the comment that someone really needs to give Wolfie a lesson on how to make rissotto.

                2. roxlet RE: ttoommyy Feb 2, 2012 06:09 AM

                  I don't really think that making fresh pasta is that difficult. The hardest part was always cranking the pasta machine, an operation for which it seemed you needed a third hand. Since I got my KA pasta roller attachment, it is really a breeze. I don't find making risotto hard either, but I feel that it is much more of a last minute type of dish, and I don't love making it for company for that reason. Both are wonderful and equally adaptable to a zillion different sauces and preparations. The one bonus with risotto is that if you make extra, you can make dandy arancini the next day!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: roxlet
                    linguafood RE: roxlet Feb 2, 2012 09:00 AM

                    It's not difficult at all, it just takes up so much more time than throwing together a risotto.

                    I have an atlas pasta machine with the motor (?) attachment, so cranking isn't the issue here. The issue is making the dough, rolling out the dough, letting the dough sit for an hour, cutting it into the desired shape (with or without the atlas).... all in all about a 2-hour event, whereas risotto takes - what? 20 minutes tops.

                    Too bad I like fresh pasta better than risotto '-)

                    ETA: I say this as someone who, for a while, considered selling fresh pasta (and ravioli) at the farmer's market. Until for a dinner party, I made 3 lbs. of ravioli (2 savory, 1 sweet filling for dessert), and it basically took me almost all day. Nobody could pay me for the effort & time. Well, maybe if I sold 'em at Union Square Market......

                    1. re: linguafood
                      roxlet RE: linguafood Feb 2, 2012 09:26 AM

                      I completely agree, but I think the thing that I like about pasta is that it isn't done all in one go, whereas you really have to finish the risotto once you start it, although I know some people think that there are ways to stop, hold it, and restart.

                      1. re: roxlet
                        linguafood RE: roxlet Feb 2, 2012 09:40 AM

                        True, dat.

                        1. re: roxlet
                          mattstolz RE: roxlet Feb 2, 2012 03:54 PM

                          ive had good results with par-cooking it. especially useful for brown rice risotto

                    2. f
                      freia RE: ttoommyy Feb 2, 2012 09:01 AM

                      I do both, don't use a pasta machine to roll out, either. I do it old school, on the counter and cut as required. I tend not to make fresh spaghetti, but mostly stuffed pastas or linguinis etc. I find that fresh pasta takes less constant attention than risotto, in that I can whip up a batch very quickly, let it rest, and rolling it out and cutting it takes less than 10 minutes.
                      I get bored with the standing over a pot, stirring and checking and adding liquid and stirring and checking and adding liquid that happens with risotto.
                      I guess I prefer fresh pasts making! But I love them both.

                      1. Jay F RE: ttoommyy Feb 2, 2012 03:56 PM

                        Pasta. I just like it better than rice.

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