I’ll be honest, I was a little intimidated to try making lemon risotto for the first time. Risotto takes a lot of attention. Luckily I had my husband as my incredible sous chef and we managed to pull it off. I know that for experienced Italian chefs, this process should take no more than 18 minutes. It took us closer to 30 minutes, but I feel much more confident tackling it again which is a good thing because I have been craving it ever since! Lemon Risotto is now one of my favorite dishes!
While visiting Cinque Terre, Ben and I picked up a small bag of arborino rice for making risotto. Half of the rice was flavored with lemons from nearby Sorrento and the other half was flavored with local squid ink. They were beautiful yellow and black rice kernals. I was a little skeptical at first, but after having squid ink pasta I realized how sweet and delicious it was. We knew we needed to bring some home to try.
Risotto is a traditional rice dish. The base always has white wine, onion, butter, and a broth. Sometimes it is a fish base, sometimes it is a chicken broth, or even vegetable. The key is in the use of a simmered broth to cook the rice. Once you have the base down, you can get creative with add ins like peas, mushrooms, bone marrow, or sausage.
Throughout Italy, I never saw risotto served as a side dish. It was always served as a starter dish, just as pasta was. It would then be followed by a nice fish plate with some veggies then finished up with an espresso or grappa. Now that’s a dinner I could get used to!
It’s very important to serve risotto right away. You will lose the creamy texture if you allow the rice to cool and set. Risotto should be served rich and creamy. How delicious does this bite look?
- 6 Cups of Chicken (or vegetable) Broth
- 1/2 Cup White Wine
- 1.5 Cups of Aborino Rice
- 1 Small Diced Onion
- 3 Cloves of Minced Garlic
- Zest from 1 or 2 lemons (depending on how lemony you want it)
- 4 Tablespoons of Butter
- 1 Cup Fresh Shredded Parmesan Cheese (Other types of cheese can be used instead, it just depends on what flavors you are trying to coax out of the risotto)
- Bring broth to a simmer in a saucepan.
- Saute onions & garlic with 1 tablespoon of butter in a large, high sided saute pan until onions are translucent.
- Add another tablespoon of butter and the rice.
- Stir continuously until rice is slightly opaque.
- Add in the white wine & lemon zest.
- Stir until wine has soaked in/evaporated.
- Now begins the tricky part. Add in one ladle of broth at a time. Take this part slowly so that the rice cooks slowly and evenly.
- Stir well until the liquid has been absorbed by the rice.
- Add another ladle of broth and stir again. Repeat this process until the rice is cooked.
- After about 12 minutes of adding in broth and stirring, taste the rice. Keep adding broth and stirring until rice is al dente, or almost done with a slight chew to it.
- Add in the remaining two tablespoons of butter and the Parmesan cheese and stir until well combined.
- Serve immediately.