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Basic Risotto with Parmesan Cheese

Ingredients
  • 5 to 6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 sm. onion, minced
  • 1 1/2 cup short-grain Italian rice, preferably Vialone or Carnaroli
  • 3 T. unsalted butter at room temperature
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2/3 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to pass at the table
Instructions

Serves 6 as a first course. Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan and cook the onion over medium heat, stirring until the onion is golden but not brown, about 3-5 min. Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon to coat the rice thoroughly with the oil and onion. Turn the heat to medium-high, add about 1/2. cup of the simmering stock, and keep the mixture boiling, stirring constantly. As soon as the stock has been absorbed, add another 1/2 c. of stock and stir until it is absorbed. You may have to adjust the heat from time to time -- the risotto has to keep boiling, but it must not stick to the pot. If your risotto tends to stick, put the pot on a heat diffuser. Continue adding stock, about 1/2 c. at a time, stirring constantly and waiting until each portion is absorbed before adding the next, until the risotto is creamy and tender on the outside, but with each grain still distinct and firm. This will take at least 20 minutes, maybe as long as 30 minutes, depending on your pot and your stove. If the grains are still a bit hard in the middle after you have used all but a few Tablespoons of the stock, add boiling water in 1/4 c. increments, stirring it in as you did the stock until each grain is tender, but still has the slightest bit of firmness, and the mixture is creamy. Remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir vigorously while adding the butter and the Parmesan cheese. This stirring will make the risotto even creamier. Taste and season the mixture with salt and pepper. While continuing to stir vigorously, add the few remaining tqablespoons of hot stock (or boiling water if you've used all the stock) to further soften the consistency. Taste carefully once more for seasoning and serve immediately, passing a small bowl of grated Parmesan cheese.

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