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Lemon Risotto

About 5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade

Sprig of fresh mint

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Sprig of fresh rosemary

Sprig of fresh sage

Grated zest of 1 lemon

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 shallots, minced

Sea salt to taste

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1-1/2 cups Italian Arborio rice

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup freshly grated Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus additional cheese for the table

In a large saucepan, heat the stock and keep it simmering, at barely a whisper, while you prepare the risotto.

Stem the fresh herbs. Combine the leaves with the lemon zest and, with a large chef's knife, chop finely. Set aside.

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine 2 tablespoons of the butter, the oil, shallots, and salt over moderate heat. Cook, stirring, until the shallots are soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. (Do not let the shallots brown.) Add the rice, and stir until the rice is well coated with the fats, glistening and semitranslucent, 1 to 2 minutes. (This step is important for good risotto: The heat and fat will help separate the grains of rice, ensuring a creamy consistency in the end.)

When the rice becomes shiny and partly translucent, add a ladleful of the stock. Cook, stirring constantly, until the rice has absorbed most of the stock, 1 to 2 minutes. Add another ladleful of the simmering stock, and stir regularly until all the broth is absorbed. Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. The rice should cook slowly and should always be covered with a veil of stock. Continue adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring frequently and tasting regularly, until the rice is almost tender, but firm to the bite, about 17 minutes total. The risotto should have a creamy, porridge-like consistency.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, the lemon zest and herbs, lemon juice, and the Parmesan. Cover and let stand off the heat for 2 minutes, to allow the flavors to blend. Taste for seasoning. Transfer to warmed shallow soup bowls, and serve immediately, passing additional cheese. Risotto waits for no one.

Serves 4 to 6.

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