I absolutely love risotto. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really introduced to it until my mid-twenties. But that’s to be expected given that my familial ancestry isn’t anywhere near Italian, and my more recent ancestors who migrated to the US never lived anywhere near an Italian-American enclave. So it’s unsurprising that Italian food wouldn’t really be in our genes.
Not to worry though, I have certainly begun compensating for my childhood lack of risotto in recent years; it’s taken a little bit of practice to know exactly when it’s done, but I’m very comfortable making it now, and I do so often. This may sound weird, but I think my favorite part of risotto is the stirring. I don’t know why, but I find it so therapeutic. I love to stand there, rhythmically stirring for twenty minutes, feeling serene and calm and lost in my own little world. And I see the fact that you can’t leave the stove as a plus. If your phone is beeping texts and emails at you, you can ignore it in good conscience, because you’re stirring risotto. If your spouse needs you for something, well, he/she will just have to wait, because you’re stirring risotto. So it’s this lovely excuse to escape all the demands life throws at us for twenty minutes.
I keep seeing and hearing of all these recipes that call for making risotto in the oven, or in the slow cooker, specifically to avoid the stirring step, and I just think that’s so crazy! Don’t they know they’re missing the best part of risotto?!? Don’t deprive yourself of the stirring!! Nooooo!! Okay, I hope no one has completely written me off as insane by now. This is just one of my quirks, I suppose. Yeah, we’ll go with that. 😉
This risotto is quite excellent – very light with good, clean flavors. The lemon flavor is rather intense though. If you love lemon, you’ll have no problems with it. If lemon isn’t so much your thing, then I would halve the amount of juice and zest called for. But it’s a great cheery dish to have on a cold winter night. Enjoy!
Source: adapted from Giada’s Kitchen by Giada de Laurentiis
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 2 to 3 lemons)
3 tbs unsalted butter, divided
2 large shallots, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tbs chopped fresh parsley
Zest the lemon and set the zest aside. Now juice the lemons.
In a medium saucepan, combine the stock and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Put the heat between low and medium-low. You want to warm the stock, but do not allow it to boil at all.
In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir to thoroughly coat it with the butter. Once it’s fragrant, about a minute or two, add the white wine and remaining 1/4 cup lemon juice. Stir and simmer until it has almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the warmed stock to the rice and stir until it has almost completely evaporated, about 2 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until each batch has nearly evaporated, until the stock has been used up completely. This will take about 20 minutes total. You must stir the entire time, as that releases the starches in the rice and makes the final dish very creamy and delicious.
When the rice is done, turn the heat to low, add the remaining 1 tbs butter, 1/2 cup of the cheese, the lemon zest, plus salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine and melt the butter and cheese.
Serve garnished with parsley and the remaining 2 tbs cheese.