I’ve never made risotto before and I’m not even sure I’ve ever had it before but of course that is why I had to make it last week. This recipe comes from the book Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. If you haven’t heard of her or this book, I HIGHLY recommend it/her to any woman out there who especially loves food. Shauna is a Christian author/speaker and is also a part of the Relevant podcast. Jesse bought me this book for Easter and I loved every minute of reading it. She shares stories of her life which all unfolds around her kitchen table, and with each story comes one or more recipes of dishes she loves. This risotto is her go-to entertainment dish and just might be my new go-to entertainment dish as well.
Shauna recommended making this dish when the stakes are low, so don’t make it for the first time as a holiday dinner – I took that advice and made it just for Jesse and I. We both loved how it turned out!
I’m not sure why, maybe I was just so excited to make this dish, but I totally forgot to snap a picture of the ingredients used, but I guess we’ll move forward anyways.
Here’s what you need: Chicken broth, Arborio rice (Trader Joe’s sells this super cheap), onion, garlic, Parmesan cheese, mushrooms and salt and pepper. Her recipe calls for white wine along with the chicken broth, but chicken broth is also a perfect substitute for white wine. So if you don’t have some white wine in your house just use more of the chicken broth in place of the wine.
Just like every good recipe out there, you start out by sauteing onions. And just like every time I saute onions, I always do a little longer than what’s called for just because that’s what I like. Shauna says to make this in a dutch oven, which is what I did, but you can actually make this dish in a large skillet if you don’t have a dutch oven.
When the onion is almost to where you want it, press garlic cloves and throw those in. They’ll be done when you can smell garlic everywhere and the onions are exactly where you want them. You don’t need to overcook the onions because they will continue to cook with the rest of the dish for the next 30ish minutes.
As the onions and garlic are becoming soft and perfect, put your chicken broth in a pan and begin heating it up. You will want it nice and hot when it’s time to use it – not boiling though.
When the onions and garlic are finished, throw in the arborio rice. It will pop and sizzle a lot, which is exactly what you want to happen. So keep on stirring it (with a wooden spoon) until all the rice is coated with oil. This is the point where you can either throw in a small amount of wine or you can start using the chicken broth. The alcohol will cook out of the risotto but it will leave behind the flavor of wine in the finished risotto, so if you don’t like that flavor then use chicken broth. If you used wine, let the rice soak it up well before you begin the next step.
If you aren’t using wine then begin the next step by putting a cup of broth into the rice. The goal at this point is to keep the rice from drowning and to also keep it from drying out. So you’ll put a cup of broth in and let it cook and soak into the rice, then you’ll add another cup before it dries up too much, etc, etc. You’ll have 6 cups of broth in your warming pot so that is the max amount you want to use. I actually ended up using a little less in mine. The risotto doesn’t need to be stirred every second, but just make sure it isn’t cooking to the bottom of the skillet.
From this point it will take about 30 minutes until it’s finished. Keep the heat at medium – you don’t want the rice/broth boiling, but just nice little bubbles that keep it at a good temperature.
Shauna says that risotto is actually supposed to be soft on the outside but have a little gritty bite when you get to the very center. It’s not going to be super soft like normal rice so keep an eye on it and keep taste testing so that it doesn’t get overcooked.
The best part about risotto is how endless the possibilities are. I decided to add mushrooms to mine to give the dish some more flavor and depth. I poured a small amount of the broth into a skillet and chopped up several mushrooms and let them cook down. This is also where Shauna added wine instead of broth to add more flavor right at the end.
When the rice is just a few minutes from being finished add in the mushrooms and any juice that is in the pan with them. Throw in a good handful of shredded parmesan cheese, a pinch of salt and a good grind of fresh black pepper then mix.
And that’s all there is too it! So easy!
I’m not totally sure how the dish is supposed to look like in the end, how much liquid should be in it or how dry it should be, but I picked a happy medium that looked good to me. Most importantly it tasted like I had slaved over it for hours! :)
I will definitely be making this dish again, and will try all sorts of variations. Shauna even talks about different variations using, bacon, butternut squash, shrimp, peas, asparagus. HEAVENLY.
Here’s the recipe so you can try it out too!
- Olive Oil
- 4 Cloves of Garlic
- 1 Onion, diced
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 1 cup white wine
- 6 cups chicken broth
- Parmesan cheese
- Salt/Pepper to taste
- Saute onion in dutch oven with oil until translucent then add in garlic and cook until fragrant - warm broth in a pan next to the dutch oven
- Add in arborio rice and stir until coated with oil, add in wine/broth
- When wine/broth is absorbed, add a cup of warmed broth and stir
- Continue adding a cup of broth at a time and stir when needed, don't drown and don't dry out rice
- Before adding a new cup of broth be sure to taste test to see where the rice is, it will be finished when it's soft around the outside with a little bite in the center.
- Chop mushrooms and heat them with a little wine or broth until cooked down. Add these in at the very end.
- Throw in a handful of parmesan with a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper