Watching Gordon Ramsay yell at contestants on Hell’s Kitchen must have given me the idea that risotto is really complicated and really difficult to make. I can see where it might be in a restaurant kitchen because it is a dish that takes some time and attention to make, and if other chefs are depending upon you to time it just right — well, there’s a reason F-bombs abound.
But risotto isn’t complicated or difficult to make at home. It’s dead simple. So simple, that I sometimes sneak in half an hour to cook it for lunch. Because it is that good. And I love carbs. And cheese. Here is a really simple recipe for risotto that I use as a starter for other risotto variations. Once you get the hang of it, you can start adding other ingredients to jazz it up. I’ve added some of my favorites in the notes at the bottom.
- 1 C. arborio rice
- 2 T unsalted butter OR olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 t. garlic salt
- 1/2 C dry white wine
- 3 C hot broth — vegetable and chicken both work well
- 3/4 C shredded Parmesan cheese
- 2 T parsley
- Fresh ground black pepper to taste
- In a heavy saucepan, saute rice in one tablespoon of butter, stirring constantly.
- Add onion and garlic salt. Saute until onion is tender.
- Add wine and saute until absorbed.
- Slowly add one cup of hot broth, stirring frequently.
- As the liquid cooks down, continue to add the remainder of the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, until all the broth is used and the mixture is very creamy.
- Fold in cheese, parsley, and butter. Season with pepper.
- Serve immediately
- Shrimp is a great addition to risotto. Saute peeled, deveined, de-tailed shrimp in a spot of olive oil and fresh garlic. Fold into your risotto with the cheese, parsley, and butter.
- Lemon is an interesting flavor to add. Stir in two teaspoons grated lemon peel and one tablespoon of lemon juice with the cheese, parsley, and butter.
- Mushroom risotto is fantastic with red meat. Use red onion and red wine instead of white onion and white wine (you’ll have the red wine with your red meat anyway, right?). Chop up about a cup of mushrooms, and toss them in as you add the last cheese, parsley, and butter to your risotto. (If you’re using dehydrated mushrooms, use the mushroom broth instead of chicken or vegetable broth.)
- Squash risotto is lovely, too. Cook about three cups of squash in boiling water. Spoon out the squash and save the broth. Use the squash broth instead of chicken or veggie broth. Mash the squash and fold it into your risotto with the cheese, parsley, and butter.