The classic rules for cooking risotto demand ceaseless stirring, meticulous additions of liquid, and a fair amount of mysticism about how the dish must always be made to order. In fact, risotto is not as delicate as popularly supposed. When done properly, partially cooking the rice or other grains in advance will not degrade the quality of the dish. Gualtiero Marchesi, Thomas Keller, and other prominent chefs parcook risotto and then refrigerate it to firm the starch. Breaking up the cooking process in this way improves both speed and coordination on the line.
It can be challenging to determine how much liquid to use when cooking risotto because absorption varies dramatically according to the variety of rice and the cooking method. A good starting point is to try using twice as much liquid as grain. Expect to experiment a bit before you find the optimal ratio for each recipe.
Estimating the final yield of risotto is easier. The “Yield after cooking” column in the table below indicates how much the grain will swell and increase in weight after full absorption of the liquid used. For example, no matter how generous you choose to be with your cooking liquid, 100 g of raw, dried amaranth will produce 190 g of drained, fully cooked amaranth.
After parcooking the risotto and finishing it on the stove top, you can dress the cooked risotto with sauce or, for less starchy grains, add a thickener to yield the traditionally creamy result. Some grains, including bomba rice, barley, and steel-cut oats, have enough natural starch to create a sauce of their own. Others are better if you finish them mantecato; that is, enrich the sauce with a dollop of butter and some cheese.
adapted from the Plant Foods chapter in Modernist Cuisine