Not only will heating the stock ensure the right cooking temperature needed to effectively cook the rice and enrich your risotto’s texture but it’ll also enhance its taste. Heating stock helps bloom its flavors, which will in turn make for more fragrant and tasty risotto. You can enhance store-bought stock’s flavor by adding dried ingredients like shrimp shells, dried mushrooms, whole spices, or a dash of soy or fish sauce. The heat will leech the umami notes from these additions into the stock while simultaneously preparing it for the cooking process.
Before adding the stock, begin building a flavorful foundation with fried aromatics. Risotto recipes begin like a typical pilaf recipe, frying onions or leeks until translucent and fragrant before adding the rice and toasting it in the aromatic saute. The rice will turn a caramel or brown color, signaling it’s ready to start adding the stock.
Toasting rice not only adds a wonderful nuttiness but also creates a barrier for each rice grain that slows its rate of absorption. Since you’re making rice in a shallow, uncovered pan, slower absorption prevents undercooked or scorched risotto. While the starches alone are enough to impart a creamy consistency, a splash of heavy cream and cheese will bring your risotto to decadent heights while also layering on savory dairy notes. You should add dairy once the last bit of stock has been absorbed by the rice and you’ve removed the pan from the hot burner.