How does risotto differ from a plain bowl of rice? Let us count the ways. We begin with a special variety of rice (Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone Nano) with a starchy outer layer that is especially adept at absorbing sauces. The rice also releases some of its starch into the cooking liquid, giving the dish a velvety texture. The gradual addition of broth as the rice cooks, plus plenty of butter and cheese, dial up risotto's lusciousness.
Perfect risotto is easy to make; the key is to be sure the stock is fully incorporated after each addition and to avoid overcooking the rice. If you prefer, you may use Parmesan instead of Asiago cheese in this recipe.