There are probably a thousand different recipes on the internet today for any kind of risotto. Mushroom, veggie, shrimp......there are probably an infinite number of kinds out there. I am not sure what makes mine better, but it is just better. Even though I haven't tried one recipe from anyone but myself, I know mine is the best. Why? Because I am confident and cocky. HAHA!!
Risotto can tend to me heavy though. It's just a belly filling dish. That is why a lot of places offer it as an actual entree after throwing in a light protein. It is very rich as well, so I don't think I'd eat an entire pot of it without getting a bit of a stomach ache.
Risotto is found a lot in the north of Italy. There are several different grains of rice that are available in Italy and in specialty shops in America. The most common however, is Arborio. Arborio rice can be found in just about any supermarket around, and that is the grain I have used for all of my risotto dishes, including this one.
My family hails from Southern Italy, and I tend to associate anything from Rome down with the flavor of lemons. I have never been to Italy, but I would love to hang out on the Amalfi coast one day and just smell the fragrant lemon trees mixing with the cool sea breeze. Ahhhh, maybe one day.
Anyway, I love to incorporate my Southern roots into all of my Italian dishes. Whether it be a bowl of Pasta e Fagioli (my recipe here) or this risotto dish, I like to make my mark so to speak. I think I have done that with this amazing recipe I am sharing with you today. It has the richness and creaminess of a traditional northern risotto with the acidic bite from the lemons. It really blends well together. I love serving this as a side to my Chicken Cutlets. Sooo goooood!!!
Risotto really is a labor of love, and well worth it. It's not something I have the time to make every day, which makes it all the more special on the occasions I do serve it. Enjoy guys....
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
2 TBSP e.v. olive oil
2 TBSP butter
1 small onion, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
juice of 2 lemons (about 4 TBSP)
zest of 1 lemon
8 cups VERY HOT chicken stock
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 TBSP very cold butter
1/4 cup parmiggiano
Bring 8 cups of chicken stock to a boil, and then reduce to a low simmer.
In a heavy bottomed medium sauce pot, drop in 2 TBSP butter and olive oil. Melt over medium heat. Once melted, drop in the small minced onion and sautee gently until onion is completely softened and translucent.
Measure out 1 1/2 cups of Arborio rice and drop it into the onion mixture, stirring frequently. Do this for about 2 minutes so that each grain is covered evenly in the fat.
Now here is the interesting part...most risottos use red or white wine. I am omitting the white wine in this dish and substituting lemon juice. This will give ultimate lemon flavor to this dish and really make it pop. So go ahead and add that lemon juice now, and continue to stir around until the lemon juice has been absorbed.
Add 2 cups of chicken stock, along with 1/2 of the lemon zest and stir gently, reducing the heat to a low simmer. Allow the risotto to completely absorb the chicken stock. Taste a few grains to test the doneness.
Add 1 cup of chicken stock at a time, remembering to taste the consistency of the Arborio rice after each cup is absorbed. This whole process will take about 20 minutes. Perfect risotto should be creamy with just a little "bite" to the rice. It should almost feel like the rice is soft but has a POP to it when you bite down.
When the rice is al dente, remove from heat and vigorously stir in 2 TBSP of very cold butter. I like to stir furiously with a wooden spoon until the butter is completely incorporated. This really makes the risotto so creamy.
Fold in a 1/4 cup of freshly grated parmiggiano and allow to sit for 2 minutes before serving. Top with remaining lemon zest for garnish.
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