Perhaps the trickiest thing about risotto is knowing when it’s done. Like pasta, you want to cook the rice to al dente — it should be cooked through but still have just the slightest bite to it. How do you know when risotto is cooked to that stage?
There are visual cues — the risotto should be creamy but not thick, rolling back after you run a spoon through the pan — and you can of course taste it, but the visual cues can be hard to read if you haven’t made a lot of risotto before. And you might not want to keep grabbing forkfuls of rice throughout the cooking process!
Luckily, there’s one other great indicator for doneness: the smear test.