parmesan risotto

As a newlywed I tried to impress my new Hubby with a fancy risotto that took me hours to prepare and it was loaded with ALOT of butter, cream and parmesan cheese. It was definitely a decadent special occasion treat, but after visiting Italy and sampling authentic risotto, I realized that risotto didn’t have to be loaded down with dairy to be delicious.

So, I’ve tweaked my newlywed recipe to be healthier without compromising any flavor. In the Spring/Summer, I like to add fresh herbs or green peas and in the Fall/Winter I’ll add butternut squash or I’ll serve the parmesan risotto with slow-braised turkey.

Please use a wooden spoon to insure that you don’t break the rice while stirring.

After adding the rice to the onions, stir to coat the grains with the olive oil and butter.

A dry white wine is essential to the flavor of the finished risotto, so allow it to absorb completely before starting the chicken broth process.

This is what the rice should look like when its time to ladle more broth. Continue to stir until the risotto is al dente, an Italian term meaning to the tooth (or firm to the bite).

The finished risotto. I’ve added fresh basil and sauteed shiitake mushrooms.

Parmesan Risotto

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. organic unsalted butter
½ medium sweet onion, finely chopped
6 oz. arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
5 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 Tbsp. mascarpone
4 Tbsp. freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
Sea salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste
Fresh basil, optional
Sliced shiitake mushrooms, optional

MUST DO: Keep the chicken broth in a sauce pan over medium heat while you cook the risotto. Note: You might have some chicken broth leftover.

In a large heavy bottom skillet, heat the olive oil and 1 Tbsp. of butter over medium heat, add the onions and cook until the onions are translucent. Add the rice and saute until fragrant and coated with the oil and butter, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and stir until completely absorbed. Then begin adding the chicken broth, one ladle (or cup) at a time, making sure that each ladle is absorbed before adding more broth. Stir and repeat the chicken broth until the rice is al dente. Lastly, stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter, mascarpone, parmesan and cook until the rice is smooth and creamy. Adjust sea salt and white pepper to taste and serve immediately.

VARIATION: In a small skillet, saute a cup of sliced shiitake mushrooms in a teaspoon of butter and set aside. Chiffonade some fresh basil to taste. Following the basic recipe add the butter, mascarpone and parmesan to the risotto before stirring in the fresh basil and mushrooms. Adjust seasonings and serve immediately.

Photos: Zavvi Rodaine

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