Risotto is such a great dish, nice and elegant. But it often means standing at the stove, stirring constantly, as the rice slowly cooks. And who has time for that?
So it’s nice to have a recipe that minimizes the time spent standing next to a hot stove. This one is adapted from two Cook’s Illustrated recipes. I’m including lots of photos here to show all the stages, since those stages are important!
Start with all ingredients: arborio rice, garlic, shallots, butter, white wine (optional), broth (or water, for a veggie version), and parmesan cheese. (Not shown: olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs.)
There are only two pre-cooking prep things you really need to do. Heat two and a half cups of broth on top of the stove or in the microwave. (I used chicken broth, but you could also use veggie or plain water.) And while the broth/water is heating, crush the garlic (2-3 cloves) and chop about two tablespoons of shallots.
Now you’re ready to cook. In a large heavy pan on the stovetop, melt two tablespoons of butter over medium heat, adding in two tablespoons of olive oil toward the end.
Add the shallots and stir until tender, roughly one minute.
Then add the garlic and stir for about half a minute until it also starts to tenderize.
Pour in one cup of arborio rice and stir constantly for several minutes.
Here’s what you’re looking for. See how the edges are just starting to turn clear?
When that happens, add half a cup of white wine (or water).
Stir until the liquid has almost all been absorbed by the rice.
Then pour in the hot broth/water, all of it and all at once.
Now comes the best part. Cover the pan and lower the heat slightly, and let it cook for ten minutes. After ten minutes, stir it. Here’s what it should look like at this point:
Now, cover it again and let it cook for another five minutes, then stir again.
Cover yet again and let it cook for five more minutes. When the rice has absorbed most of the liquid and is cooked (you’ll need to taste-test it), you’re ready for the next step.
Pour in about a quarter cup of broth (or water), then remove from heat and add half a cup (or more, if you like) of grated Parmesan cheese. Stir until the rice is creamy and the cheese has melted into it, then season with herbs (I used dried herbes de Provence, about two teaspoons) and salt and pepper to taste.
We served this with tilapia garnished with a savory olive relish and shredded Brussels sprouts, along with a lovely red wine from Veritas Vineyards, their Red Star blend (Cab Franc, Merlot, Chambourcin), a lovely combination.