Plain risotto

Risotto is always a crowd pleaser at my dinner parties. The downside is that it takes a while to prepare. But there is a trick how to prepare it in advance and just finish it in 5 min before serving – so that you don’t have to miss half the conversation around your dinner table.  

serves: 4        difficulty: medium      prep time: 20 – 30 min


  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 1/3 cups of Arborio rice (1/3 cup rice per person is portioned for a middle course. Increase to 1/2 cup per person if this is a main course).
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 4 cups stock. Vegetable – if you want to keep it vegetarian, or chicken
  • 1/3 lbs Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and [optionally] left over cheese rinds
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream


Chop the onion. I start by slicing the onion vertically.

Then split the slices into two, and place each half with the cut side down. Then slice lengthwise, and start chopping.

Place the stock in a stock pot and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer. You need the stock to be at boiling temperature when you start cooking the rice.

In a large pot heat the olive oil and butter together. Once the butter has melted, add the onions to the pot, and sauté until translucent (but not golden).

Reduce the heat to medium, add the rice.

Stirring constantly, fry the rice for 2 min.

Frying the raw rice before adding any liquid is one of the keys to a creamy risotto. Add the white wine and continue stirring until the wine is almost completely absorbed.

When the white wine has been absorbed, pour a ladle of stock in the rice mixture, and continue stirring until the stock has been almost absorbed. Add the cheese rind to it (if you are using it). The cheese rind will give the risotto a wonderful “cheesiness”.

Continue adding stock – one ladle at a time – and stirring until each ladle of stock has been absorbed.

Continue doing that until 2/3 of the stock has been absorbed, then remove the risotto from the heat, and continue stirring for 2 min so that it cools down.

The goal is to slow down and stop the cooking process. At that point the risotto has to feel really al dente – i.e. the rice is not yet edible.  Stir again every 5 min for the next 20 min to allow it to keep cooling. Your risotto is almost ready – and will take only 5 min to finish before you are ready to serve.

To finish, bring the remainder of the stock to a boil. Add 1 tbs salt and pepper to taste to the risotto. Heat the risotto as well. Add a ladle of the hot stock to the risotto and keep stirring. Repeat until the risotto is moist and creamy. Taste the rice for doneness – it has to feel still quite al dente. Remove from the heat, and stir in the cream.

Plate in risotto plates, and top with some shredded Parmigiano.

Once you master the plain risotto, the possibilities are endless!


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