The myth of constant stirring required to obtain the creamy rice texture scared me off for years. But then I took the plunge. I followed the directions on whatever brand of arborio rice I purchased and got to mixing.
Here's why risotto is one of my go-to meals in colder months: it can be fancy enough for company and it's a warm and filling side dish or main meal for everyday, too.
The trick with risotto is to make sure you don't stray too far from the stove. While you do need to stir the rice often, it's OK to take small breaks to chop herbs or rest your arm.
Best thing about risotto? It is so versatile! So many combinations of vegetables, cheese and even shrimp or chicken work well in this saucy rice dish.
And if you are lucky enough to have leftovers, you can let the kids make risotto cakes the next day.
Parmesan Herb Risotto
1/2 cup chopped white or yellow onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup arborio rice
2 cups chicken broth, divided
1 cup white wine (Use your favorite. Chardonnay or Savignon Blanc work well in this recipe.)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh herbs (this time I used oregano and parsley)
Note: If you plan to double this recipe use a 4 1/2 quart or a 5 quart pot.
In a 2 quart or 3 quart pot, heat oil and butter until butter is melted. Add onion and saute for about 3 minutes. Add raw rice and stir for another 2 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Add one cup of chicken broth. Continue cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed. Add second cup of chicken broth and keep stirring until broth is absorbed. Add 1 cup wine and stir until no liquid remains.
Remove from heat and stir in remaining butter, parmesan cheese and herbs. Mix until butter and cheese is melted. Eat while still warm.
Leftover Risotto Cakes
1 or 3 Mozzarella cheese sticks
Plain or Italian seasoned bread crumbs or panko (1/2 cup is plenty for 4 risotto cakes)
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
Warm risotto in microwave for a minute or two so it is easier to handle. Scoop up a heaping tablespoon of leftover risotto and form a large ball. Repeat until all of your risotto is used.
Unwrap a mozzarella cheese stick and cut it into pieces about a 1/2 inch long. One cheese stick will fill 4 risotto cakes. Poke a hole in each risotto ball. Insert one piece of cheese into ball and reshape so that the hole is covered and closed.
Pour breadcrumbs into a shallow bowl. Gently roll risotto balls one at a time in bread crumbs to coat.
Heat oil in a skillet. Place risotto balls in skillet and slowly flatten with a spatula. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes and then turn risotto cakes over. Cook for another 3 or 4 minutes, or until a nice crispy brown crust forms.
Remove from skillet and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Serve warm with a green salad or use as a side dish for steak, pork chops or chicken.