I have a minor addiction to Top Chef.  I DVR it, and then watch it on Thursday mornings while I run through whatever morning chores I have– my one true break from preschool TV.  I didn’t start watching it until the season that Richard Blais won– season eight, I think it was.  One thing I quickly learned, though, was that risotto was a competition killer.  If you offered up risotto or any dessert (or chicken salad or even a deviled egg, for that matter), you’d likely be the next one packing up knives on you way out the door. Ergo, it must be really difficult to get right.

When the Daring Cooks, from which I have been sadly absent for so long, chose arancini (which they’re all showing to the world today), I needed to suck it up and tackle the seemingly insurmountable bowl of super creamy rice.  And yesterday, I did.  And it was pretty amazing.

I’ll get to  that arancini next!


Adapted from Ina Garten’s Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash


6 cups chicken stock

½ cup dry white wine

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp. pepper

6 tbsp. unsalted butter

½ cup diced onion

1 ½ cups Arborio rice

½ cup Parmesan

Parsley, chopped (optional)


Since the recipe I chose to work with required pretty constant attention, I opted to gather everything together beforehand.

On the downside– more dishes to clean.  However, the ease in being able to grab what I needed quickly made it worthwhile.

Heat chicken stock over low heat and keep it at a simmer.

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.

I don’t know if I chose the right kind of saucepan for this task.  I chose the best saucepan I  own, since I felt like the Revere Ware wasn’t going to cut it.

Sautee the onions until they are translucent.  The onions will start out nice and chunky, and then

the butter will get bubbly and foamy,

and then really bubbly.  The onions will be much smaller and completely see through.

Add the rice,

and stir to coat the grains with butter as indicated in this blurry photo.

Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes.

Add a few ladles of stock (2 cups) to the rice

plus salt and pepper.

Stir and simmer

until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes.  You drag the spoon across the pan and the bottom stays visible for more than a few seconds.   A quick word about that spoon– I really wish I’d used a heat resistant spatula instead of a wooden spoon.  I feel like the spoon changed the flavor of the risotto somewhat. There’s a reason that don’t bottle Extract of Wooden Spoon.  It doesn’t taste good.

it took a long time to absorb and made me antsy, feeling like I was doing it all wrong.  ½ cup at a time meant progress! was occurring. Continue to add more stock, ½ cup at a time until the rice is cooked through.

It should take about 25-30 minutes total from the time you melt the butter to the time you pull the pot from the heat.  I would suggest setting a timer so you can keep track.  I was constantly checking the timestamp on my photos because I didn’t set the timer.

I did taste test the rice (a different spoon each time, of course) a few times during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Off of the heat add the Parmesan cheese.

Mix well, and serve it up.

I added a little chopped parsley to mine.  The house smelled so good, Boy begged for a bowl as soon as he walked through the door after school.  He, much like the rest of us, had never had risotto before.  He immediately tried to talk me into eating the risotto which I’d set aside to make arancini.

I kept thinking this would be delicious with diced ham.  So delicious.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Next Up: Arancini!

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