{recipe} risotto

Did you know that when you order risotto at a restaurant it's typically made ahead (or at least the base is) and then warmed for your meal? I only know this not because I snuck into the kitchen at Taverna but because I'm sort of addicted to the Food Network show Secrets from a Restaurant Chef. A few weeks ago, she made this insane saffron risotto and mentioned how in her kitchen at the restaurant they usually make it in advance and then heat portions of it for each meal ordered. I know this might be a huge shocker to some of you, but making the perfect risotto takes patience and lots of upper body strength.

That's not to say that you can't master this dish and all of it's infinite possibilities! You really only need a few ingredients to get started and then whatever mix-ins you have on hand. Last night, I made risotto for me and my roommate - Lemon Chicken Risotto to be specific.

Essentials: "Mix-ins" 
  • Garlic (optional)
  • Onion (optional)
  • Good white wine 
  • Lemon
  • Leftover grilled chicken
  • Parmesan cheese
  1. Melt 2 tbsp each oil and butter in a large sauce pan. If you are adding onions saute them now as well. Heat 3 cups chicken broth in a smaller pot (only 2 1/4 cups if using 3/4 cup wine). Once butter is melted, stir in 1 cup rice and stir constantly (if you are adding garlic, add it now). You are essentially "toasting" the rice and releasing lots of yummy flavor. 
  2. After 2 minutes, stir in 3/4 cup wine. Stir pretty much constantly until wine is absorbed. Then add ladle-fulls of chicken broth one at a time until each one is absorbed - always taking time to stir vigorously. There is no cream in risotto - what makes it creamy is the constant stirring which develops the starches and creates a creamy consistency. 
  3. Once you've added all the chicken broth gradually and it has all been absorbed, taste the rice to make sure it's cooked through. There should be a slight bite left in it, but there shouldn't be any crunchy bits in your teeth. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tbsp butter, a a few palm-fulls of cheese to your taste. Squeeze in lemon as well with lots of pepper. You probably won't need salt since the cheese is plenty salty. 
  4. Stir in shredded chicken at the end and sprinkle freshly chopped parsley over the top (which we will have soon due to our new herb garden!). 
Voila! 20 minutes later, you have the perfect risotto. Use this recipe minus the lemon as your go-to base risotto and feel free to experiment with all kinds of toppings and flavors. 

Next on the list - asparagus and baby shrimp risotto!

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