Basic Parmesan Risotto


There is something about Risotto that makes a person want to get all sexy in the kitchen while they’re cooking.

I’m serious.

Just go with me here for a second. First of all, it is one of those meals that can be done in so many different ways. As long as you know the basic gist, you really get to let your creativity fly in terms of what you add to it. Do you like parmesan (clarification: are you HUMAN!?) then go ahead and add parmesan! Like mushrooms? Throw some of those in there! Wine!? Yes please! Seriously, the world is your oyster! Oooo00 OYSTERS!! You can add those too!

And the aromas…ughhghghghghhhhhh THE AROMAS!!!! The way the onion and the garlic blend together….the siiiiiiiizzzle of the wine….I could die.

I’ll admit, I have always been slightly intimidated of queen Risotto. I’ve been told that it is a dish that is very easy to screw up….you can burn it, drown it, gum it up….or, even worse, you’re stuck in front of the stove just stirring and stirring and stirring and stirring….. FORRRREVVVVVERRRRR (Sandlot anyone?) And yes, in ways that is true…but honestly, I’m here to tell you that Risotto’s bark is far worse than it’s bite.

Tonight, I tried my hand at it for the very first time. I found a simple, straight-forward recipe in a book I am currently reading (Bread & Wine by: Shauna Niequist) for a “Basic Risotto.” I took Shauna’s advice and tried it when the stakes were low (meaning I had no one but my husband to impress so if I screwed it up he’d still love me anyway 😉 ). I tied my hair up in a messy “I’m a home chef” type of bun, took a rather large swig of the wine that would soon be making its way into my pan, and put on one of my favorite Pandora stations for cooking, “Chicago Blues,” and let B.B. King lead the way.


And truthfully, the rest was magic. It was exactly how one wants to feel when they are cooking…like they are creating.

Here is the recipe for Shauna Niequist’s “Basic Risotto.”

Recipe: (From p.52 of Bread&Wine)

  • Olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic (I love garlic, so I put in 5 cloves)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cups of Arborio rice
  • 1 cup white wine (I used a Pinot Grigio)
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


Directions: (adapted from p.52 of Bread&Wine)


Start by putting 6 cups of chicken broth in a small pot over low heat. While the chicken broth is heating up, chop your onion, (I chose to go off book here and do a fine chop because I am not a big fan of long slivers of onion).


Next, take a stockpot (or a large soup pot), drizzle it with a thin layer of olive oil, and place it over medium to medium-low heat. Add your onions, and let them soften for about 5 minutes. Next, press your cloves of garlic, and add them to the pan with the warm oil and onions. With a wooden spoon, mix these together until the onions are translucent and that gorgeous smell I was telling you about above begins to fill your home. Once the onions are to the translucent stage, add in your Arborio rice. Stir it all together until the rice is completely coated. Then add your wine and stir, stir, stir (in her words 😉 ).


Once the wine is absorbed, add a cup of warm chicken broth and stir some more.  According to Shauna, “basically at this point, you’re trying to keep it from drowning or drying out, so add a little more broth, stir a little more; feel free to turn down the heat if it feels a little out of control.” You don’t want the boil to be too aggressive or the heat to be too low.


Keep adding cup by cup of broth and stirring every few minutes. You are looking for the rice to be soft at first with a bite in the middle. That’s when you know you’re done. (For me, it took about 30 minutes.) Once the Risotto is cooked, add in a handful of parmesan cheese and blend it through. To serve, top with a bit more parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste, and voila!



Risotto is a stand-by-itself kind of dish. However, tonight I served mine alongside Balsamic Pork Chops and Asparagus. The entire recipe for tonight’s dish to come. So stay tuned!


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