A quick rinse of the rice makes all the difference. Part of risotto's wonderful flavor comes from toasting the dry rice in fat before adding the liquid, giving it a distinct nutty aroma. But toasting destroys some of the rice's starch, resulting in a less creamy finished product.

Here's a trick: If you rinse the rice in stock and drain it before toasting, the excess starch ends up in the cooking liquid as opposed to on the rice. This allows you to fully toast the rice without affecting the thickening power of the starch, which subsequently gets added back to the pot along with the liquid. I also found that with this method, constant stirring isn't necessary.

What I do is place 1 1/2 cups of Arborio rice in a bow with a quart of chicken stock and a cup of white wine, agitating the rice with a whisk for about 15 seconds to release the starch before draining over another bowl, reserving the starchy liquid.

After toasting the rice in a tablespoon of olive oil just until it begins to smell nutty, I'll add some garlic, followed by all of the starchy stock, save one cup. I bring the liquid to a boil, give the rice one quick stir, cover, and reduce the heat to low. I cook the rice for 20 minutes, giving it a quick stir halfway through. Just before serving, I add the final cup of stock, along with a touch of cream and grated cheese.

The result? Toastier, more flavorful risotto that can go from pantry to table in less than 30 minutes with just a couple of stirs.

Kenji Lopez-Alt is the chief creative officer of Serious Eats, where he writes The Food Lab, unraveling the science of home cooking.