how can i keep risotto warm before serving? can i leave it on low heat?
Set the pan of Risotto on another pan with gently boiling water, similar to a double boiler. Put a lid on the Risotto pan so it doesn't dry out. Keep some warm stock ready to mix into the rice, just before serving if you need to.
I'd also quit cooking it when the rice is a bit more al dente than you want, as it will continue to soften while you are waiting.
just because risotto is so terrible when over cooked- i'd not . but in nearly all recipe books for risotto- and from my knowledge most restuarants use this process aswell.... if you cook it for 15 / 20 to begin with so the rice still has crunch and a nutty flavour then spread thinly (a couple of cms or an inch) so it stops cooking , in a greased pan/ baking tray and pop in fridge you can come back hours or even the next day and just finish the process off- this just makes it a little easier to plan your serving time- and especially helps in relieving the pressure if you have many components to your meal. hope this helps.
I like jessm4's suggestion, or, is it possible to cook the onions etc and stop before adding the rice? Invite your guests into the kitchen while you finish--you can finish the wine you opened to make the risotto, and they'll be very impressed.
The restaurant method mentioned is the best way. Cook it half way through and hold it in a covered "hotel pan" until you are ready to finish it. You will need to continue to add hot stock up until it's done.
I learned to stop with it after frying, but before adding the liquid and hold it like that until ready to finish. Same with Paella.