Sunday, September 18, 2005

Risotto in the Rice Cooker

Someone on the Cooking Light board recommended The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufman. I have had relative success using recipe from this book, but find that the rice is often too soft and mushy for my tastes, so I need to concentrate on reducing the liquid for most recipes.

There are several recipes for risotto in this book and I must admit that I was very, very skeptical that one would be able to produce a good risotto from a rice cooker. After all, the secret to good risotto is in the stirring. Skepticism aside, I thought it was worth a go - wouldn't it be nice to have risotto in the summer without having to heat up the kitchen???

My first attempt came out tasty, but quite mushy. Here is the recipe:

Dried Mushroom Risotto
Source: The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook

Machine: Medium (6-cup) or large (10-cup) rice cooker; fuzzy logic or on/off
Cycle: Quick Cook and/or regular or Porridge
Yield: Serves 4 to 5

1/2 ounce dried mushrooms
1 3/4 cups hottest possible tap water
About 1 1/2 cups beef, chicken, or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup minced onion
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons medium-grain risotto rice (superfine Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialine nano)

To Finish:
2 teaspoons unsalted butter, or more, if desired
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the mushrooms in a small bowl and add the hot water. Let stand for an hour or longer. (Or combine the mushrooms and water in a microwave-safe container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.) When mushrooms are soft, remove them from the liquid, squeezing gently to extract as much liquid as possible. Slice the mushrooms into pieces about 1/4 x 1 inch, discarding any tough stems. The exact size is not important, but if you cut them too small, their flavor will not be as intense. Carefully pour the mushroom soaking liquid into a measuring cup, leaving any grit behind. (If the mushrooms were especially gritty, you may want to pour the liquid through a coffee filter-lined strainer, but in general this is not necessary.) Add the stock to the mushroom soaking liquid to equal 2 cups.

2. Set the rice cooker for the Quick Cook or regular cycle. Place the olive oil and butter in the rice cooker bowl. When the butter melts, add the onion. Cook, stirring a few times, until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the wine and cook for 1 or 2 minutes. Add the rice and stir until the grains are evenly coated and hot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the grains are transparent except for a white spot on each, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the stock mixture and mushrooms to the rice; stir to combine. Close the cover and reset for the Porridge cycle, or for the regular cycle and set a timer for 20 minutes.

3. When the machine switches to the Keep Warm cycle or the timer sounds, open the cover and stir with a wooden or plastic rice paddle or wooden spoon. The risotto should be only a bit liquid and the rice should be al dente, tender with just a touch of tooth resistance. If needed, cook for a few minutes longer. This risotto will hold on Keep Warm for up to 1 hour.

4. When ready to serve, add the butter. Close the cover for a minute to let the butter melt. Stir in the parsely, cheese, a few grinds of pepper, and salt to taste. Serve immediately.

The resulting risotto was very flavorful, but too mushy. I cooked it on the porridge cycle and followed the directions closely. I like to have a nice grain to bite into. I'm not sure if the mushiness was due to too much liquid, too long a cooking time or both. Next time I try risotto in the rice cooker, I plan to try a little less liquid and will try cooking it on the regular cycle for 20 minutes.


  1. Anonymous8:17 AM

    This recipe is so easy to follow and you can change it as you see fit, but definitely the best use of the rice cooker! Thanks.

  2. I made this recipe with a zojirushi rizo ricecooker. It turned out nicely using the regular cook setting. Does anyone have experience using the risotto setting on this kind of rice cooker? I think it is for making risotto rice, but not risotto. I don't really understand it though. Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks.

  3. I have this book too, and I use the regular cycle instead of Porridge on my National fuzzy cooker (which doesn't have a Porridge setting). It comes out great, and not mushy.

  4. Anonymous3:16 PM

    The problem I encountered was that the rice cooker (Zojirushi fuzzy logic) wouldn't start again after I reset it and added stock. After consulting the manual for the error code, it seems like it doesn't like to begin a cycle with hot ingredients (like stock made with boiling water and a boullion cube). I transferred to a pot on the stove top to finish.

  5. I made this with a zojirushi rice cooker as well, using a measured cup (250mL) for the rice, not the company cup, which my wife said was 180mL). It was fantastic. I started it on a regular cycle, and cooking the onions and adding the rice allowed it to run its full course without having to hit restart or play with the controls at all. It was fantastic. Will definitely use again.