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Mantecatura, the Italian way to get creaminess to Risotti and Pasta

Mantecatura, comes from the Italian verb ‘mantecare‘, namely the technique often used in risottos or pasta dishes or gnocchi that call for creaminess, getting a homogeneous and smooth mixture by adding fats or cooking water at the end of cooking process. How does it work?


Mantecatura for Risotti:

You have to add cold butter and grated cheese or just cold butter or just cheese and sometimes oil at the end of cooking on cooker off, stirring from the bottom up with the help of a wooden spoon.

It is better to move the pan moving it back and forth creating a sort of wave on the surface. This method is precisely called “Risotto all’Onda’ – ‘Wave Rice”. Is this fundamental to the success of risotto?

Well, it works for the success of a good risotto. In this way you will ensure a soft and velvety risotto instead of dry or too liquid.

Mantecatura is generally done with a fatty component such as cold butter or cream, or grated cheese such as Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano or Pecorino, but also with creamy cheeses such as Gorgonzola or Taleggio (just to name a few) and always on cooker off and is a fairly quick process.

Why does the butter to be added have to be cold?

Butter should be quite cold, even better if kept in the freezer since the thermal shock between hot rice and cold butter will release the buttermilk that contributes to produce that soft consistency typical of risotto all’onda.

Mantecatura for Pasta:

In order to get a creamy, well-blended pasta, let’s start from the beginning: cook the pasta in plenty of salted water, drain it al dente, i.e. a couple of minutes before the cooking time indicated on the packet, keep a couple of ladles of cooking water.

Cooking water is really precious because it is rich in starch and added during the Mantecatura process it will give more creaminess to pasta.

Pasta can be stir-fried with any sauce just by placing the freshly drained pasta in the pan, turning the heat to low, adding a ladleful of cooking water and mixing everything together for a few mins.

Depending on the pasta dish you are cooking, to accentuate its creaminess, add also some fatty element such as butter (no need to be cold as for risotti), olive oil, cream or grated cheese or a creamy cheese, stir quickly in the pan, serve.

Mantecatura for Gnocchi:

Even for gnocchi with a creamy sauce surrounding them, such as 4 cheese gnocchi, simply scoop them from the pot with a skimmer as soon as they rise to the surface, transfer them to the pan, save the cooking water which will be rich in starch, season them in the pan, add a little cooking water and stir-fry over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes at the most.

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