At this point in the holiday season, I am getting a tad bit tired of the taste of poultry seasoning. Call me a Grinch or whatever, but I’ve got a slim tolerance for repetitive flavor in consecutive meals over the course of weeks. This inevitably turns me to the eating of citrus-flavored sides, which compliment rather than clashes with seasonal traditions. I adapted my recipe from the one at Leite’s Culinaria.
Never made risotto? It’s so easy! In fact, I think it is easier to make risotto perfectly than it is to make rice perfectly (barring the use of a rice cooker). Yes, there’s the need to stand over the risotto and stir until you can’t remember how to hold your arm still. But, since you’re constantly stirring, the chance of burning is really slim… especially compared to the chance of burning the bottom layer of rice in a traditional on-the-stove-pot-lid situation.
A couple of key tips: Chop vegetables and herbs, grate cheese, zest and juice lemon, and heat stock before starting with cooking. Keep the heat constant; medium-high is great. When in doubt, stir and taste.
Here’s a step-by-step for risotto (pretty general instructions); the Lemon Thyme Risotto recipe is at the end.
Season with pepper and any dried spices you will be using. Salt isn’t a great idea yet since the stock and Parmesan cheese will add plenty of sodium later on.
Now it’s time to stir in the Arborio rice. Get it nice and warm, but not toasted.
This is when I add lemon zest.
Time for your first set of liquid to go in. In this recipe it’s lemon juice.
As soon as the pan starts to dry, quickly add a ladle or two of stock. If it gets any drier, you risk scorching, which is a very technical term: yucky.
Continue stirring and adding ladles full of stock until rice is done to your liking.
(If you run out of stock before cooking is completed, a ladle or two of hot water won’t ruin the flavor. Promise.)
Stir together heavy cream and remaining lemon zest. Or, in some recipes it will be butter or egg yolks alone. Stir into rice mixture.
Finally, add in copious amounts of parmesan cheese. Make your final taste and add salt/pepper accordingly.
Creamy, yet refreshing side dish that never leaves you wanting.
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium to large onion
- 2 cups (14 ounces) Arborio Rice
- 1 large lemon
- 1 tsp dried thyme (or 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, if available)
- 6 cups (1 ½ quarts) vegetable or chicken stock, or a mixture
- Salt & pepper
- 2 Tbsp heavy cream
- 2 ounces fresh parmesan cheese
- Pour stock into stockpot and warm on a back burner. Don't boil, but it does need to be steaming hot.
- Chop onion into small dices (the size of rice grains). Zest lemon, then juice. Grate cheese.
- Place butter and oil in a wide pan over medium-high heat (I love to use my cast iron skillet for this). Add onion and a pinch of salt.
- Cook onion for about five minutes or until soft, but not browned. (Browning an onion is a great flavor, but not for this delicately seasoned dish!)
- When onion is softened, add rice and stir well so every grain is coated and warmed.
- Next, add half of the lemon zest and get stirring. Get used to this action; it will be happening until the risotto is done.
- Stir in all of the lemon juice and thyme (reserving some of the herb for garnish, if desired). Once pan is mildly dry, add a ladle of stock and keep stirring. When the pan is starting to get dry, add another ladle of stock, continuously stirring. Keep stirring and adding stock whenever the pan starts to dry out. Don’t let it get completely dry, though!
- You will notice a creamy texture. After 15 minutes of adding liquid and stirring, taste your rice. If it is done move on to the next step. If even a little crunchy, keep stirring and adding ladles of stock. It should take between 20 and 25 minutes for the rice to be cooked. (If you run out of stock but your rice isn’t done, you can use up to 4 ladles of hot tap water and not notice any flavor difference.)
- When you are happy with the texture and doneness, remove pan from heat.
- Mix remaining lemon zest with heavy cream. Add this and parmesan cheese to rice. Stir well. Give it one final taste to see if you need more salt and pepper.
- Garnish with more thyme and/or parmesan cheese if desired. Serve immediately.