Giada De Laurentiis Swears By Spanking Her Risotto. Here's Why

Typically served as a first course in an authentic multi-course Italian dinner, risotto has a reputation for being kind of needy. It's made with arborio rice and is traditionally slow-cooked while ladles full of stock are stirred in the pan to coax the starch from the grains. This technique gives the comfort food its signature creamy texture.

Risotto's thick consistency also requires a special touch when it comes time to plate it, so the food looks as good as it tastes, especially after babysitting it on the stove for 30 minutes. To fully appreciate the dish, you'll want to avoid serving risotto in a deep bowl that will hide the food. Instead, spoon the rice onto a flat plate so diners can admire the culinary masterpiece.

But, to frame the food and allow the rice to cool, you'll want to spread the risotto out, leaving a border around the plate's perimeter. Although it sounds cheeky, Giada De Laurentiis and other Italian chefs do so by "spanking" the bottom of the plate to slide the grains across its surface in one smooth layer. De Laurentiis demonstrates this technique on TikTok, which we promise is family-friendly.

How to spank risotto

Restaurant and celebrity chefs like Ina Garten prefer plating techniques such as using white dinnerware that allow the food to pop without any additional colors or patterns distracting the eye. However, if you don't have white plates, any flat option will do for risotto.

To plate the dish, spoon a serving (roughly one cup of cooked risotto) onto the center of the plate. Since spreading the rice with a utensil will leave an unattractive trail, spanking is the preferred method. 


The best way to plate a risotto- hit the bottom of it! Or like @giadadelaurentiis likes to say- spank it! #risotto #risottohack #howto #howtomakerisotto

♬ April (No Vocals) – The Young Ebenezers

Holding the plate in one hand, firmly tap the bottom with your palm, flattening the grains with each slap. Ideally, the rice should be evenly distributed without spreading it too thin in spots or allowing the plate to peek through. Since risotto is so thick, slightly tilting the plate to one side as you spank the bottom will help direct the grains without any fear you'll end up with risotto on your shoes. 

Finish plating by garnishing the dish with a complimentary ingredient or herb. If you prepared a wild mushroom risotto, for example, add a few sautéed mushrooms or a sprig of thyme on top of the rice before serving. 

Why is risotto served this way?

Like pasta, risotto should be enjoyed al dente, "to the tooth," with a slight bite. Serving hot risotto in a deep bowl traps the radiating heat, allowing the grains to continue to cook past the point you intended and resulting in mushy rice. Spreading the risotto out on a plate cools it quicker and stops the carryover cooking, allowing you to enjoy that first bite without burning your mouth. Since risotto firms as it cools, the spanking technique works best while the rice is still hot.

This presentation also allows diners to enjoy the dish's aroma and admire the creamy grains the cook spent a lot of time creating. Some go as far as to suggest that only less-than-perfectly textured risotto is served in a bowl to hide the cook's shame (ouch).

Although you may be tempted to eat the meal with a spoon, risotto is meant to be enjoyed with a fork. Starting along the outside edge, where the rice is cooler, eat the dish in concentric circles until you reach the center.