Lemon Risotto

I remember my first risotto like it was yesterday.  I was studying abroad in Italy and my parents were visiting.  After struggling a little (well maybe a lot) to actually get to San Gimignano, we stumbled across this little restaurant just outside the city walls (Trattoria Rigoletto for anyone traveling to the area) and I ordered the risotto with tomato sauce, eggplant and fresh mozzarella.  Needless to say, it changed my life and risotto is now one of my favorite dishes to cook and eat.

Risotto is an Italian rice dish that is common in Northern Italy.  The type of rice and the cooking technique is what makes risotto.  It is made with Arborio rice, which is a high starch rice.  It is fairly common and can be found at most grocery stores.

Although my arm generally gets a little tired from the constant stirring, I really enjoy making risotto.  It intimidated me at first because everyone kept saying that it is not that easy to get the consistency and texture right.  Well I completely disagree!  It takes a lot of attention and patience, but once you get the basic recipe down, you can pretty much add any flavor combination you are in the mood for to create a great side dish or a main course.  My husband loves risotto and trying my new flavor combinations that come and go with the seasons so it has become a staple meal in our house.

The lemon risotto I made to go with the grilled steaks and grilled veggies we served when my in-laws visited is amazing and surprisingly light.  The fresh lemon taste and creamy texture from the mascarpone complimented the grilled steaks perfectly.  And, you know it was good when there are no leftovers!

Lemon RisottoLemon Risotto

Adapted fromGiada De Laurentiis, Everyday Italian via foodnetwork.com

Makes about 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, diced (you can substitute an onion if you don’t have a shallot)
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 a lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

In a medium saucepan bring the chicken broth and 1/2 cup water to a simmer.  Keep hot over low heat.

In a medium, heavy sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté until tender but not brown.  Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil. Toast the rice until the edges of the rice turn translucent.  Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated.  Gradually add the broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of the broth to absorb before adding more.  The rice should be gently simmering during this process. The rice will become creamy and should be tender but still firm or al dente, about 20 minutes (now you know why your arm gets tired after 20 min of constant stirring 🙂 ).  Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, mascarpone cheese, the lemon zest and juice, and the salt and pepper.

Serve immediately.   This is the key to risotto.  If it sits for even 10 minutes the texture will change and you will lose that creaminess.

So, give it a try.  Trust me you won’t regret it, even if it doesn’t come out perfect the first time!

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