Risotto in the bowl

Full-on Risotto

Risotto is one of those dishes at once infinitely comforting but also inviting all kinds of outlandish experimentation. The other night, I decided to go basic, but big.

We’ve cut down on starches and carbohydrates of all flavors. Indeed, there are entire weeks where we have nothing but protein and vegetables for dinner. Yes, I’ve come up with many ways to dress up kale. But with the simultaneously depressing and disgusting news spewing out of our nation’s capital I’ve made it my mission to make dinner a refuge. Tonight the main event is risotto. I call this “full-on” because I’m adding herbs and some cheese rind to the broth, lemon zest and juice, and lots of Parmesan cheese at the end. This preparation contrasts with my “poor man’s risotto” where I just cook Arborio rice in a pot with chicken broth only stirring now and then.

Prep Your Station

Risotto Prep

Dice up an onion, run three or four cloves of garlic through the press, get out the rice, and pour a glass of wine. In fact, set your wine supply nearby and turn on any music or video you might want now. You’re going to be at the stove for a while.

Ready the Broth

Risotto Prep - Pans on Stove

Pour 8 cups of chicken broth into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme, 2 or 3 bay leaves, and, if you’ve got good quality Parmesan, and inch or so of the rind. If you don’t have fresh herbs use dried, but be careful to not scoop up the herbs in later steps as they can overwhelm the flavor of the rice.

Risotto - Toast the Rice

Add 2tbs olive oil to a large, heavy bottom pot, saute onion until translucent. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant. Add 2 cups of rice. Keep the rice moving for about two minutes then add 1 cup of dry white wine. Keep everything moving until the wine is fully absorbed and at least some of the rice kernels are showing a light toasted color.

Risotto - Broth

Now the fun begins! Ladle the broth, taking care not to scoop up the dried (or fresh) herbs, one scoop at a time, into the rice mixture while stirring the whole time.

Risotto - Adding Broth

I’m drizzling slowly because I’m ladling and photographing at the same time. Normally I pour in a scoop of both and then resume stirring.

Risotto - Stirring

Stir, stir, stir. Keep adding one ladle at a time, stirring continuously until each ladle-full is absorbed. Don’t walk away. See why I suggested having the wine nearby and music already on?

Keep ladling and stirring until most of the broth is used up, but don’t worry about using every drop of broth. When I start banging the ladle on the bottom of the broth pan I start tasting the rice; you’re shooting for al dente, not mush.

Once the rice is done to what you think feels right, reduce the heat to the lowest setting you have, add the lemon juice and the zest, stir until combined, then fold in some of the Parmesan cheese. Depending on the quality of the Parmesan I go slowly with the cheese; good Parmesan can quickly dominate the flavor.

Risotto in the bowl

Full-on Parmesan Risotto
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hr

This particular recipe was lifted from Tasting Table dot Com, but it's basically same as one I've used for years. Tip of the hat to Jake Cohen and Tasting Table for recently publishing this and refreshing my foggy brain.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Jake Cohen
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 3 leaves bay
  • 3 rosemary sprig
  • 1 Parmesan rind
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 small yellow onion minced
  • 2 cups carnaroli rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • cups grated Parmesan cheese plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. In a large pot, combine the chicken stock, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, rosemary sprig and Parmesan rind, and bring to a light simmer.
  2. Meanwhile, in a 4½-quart Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions, and sweat until translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly until lightly toasted and fragrant, 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the wine and cook until fully absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a ladle, add about 1½ cups of the simmering stock, making sure not to add any of the herbs or cheese rind. Cook, stirring constantly until the liquid is completely absorbed, 5 to 6 minutes. Continue this process of adding stock in these increments and stirring, until you have used up all of the stock and the rice is cooked, 25 minutes more.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan, butter, lemon juice and zest. Stir until incorporated, then season with salt and pepper. Divide between bowls, then garnish with more cheese and serve.