1.2 liters stock of your choice: fish, chicken or vegetable
30 ml olive oil
1 large onion, very finely chopped (brunoise: see glossary)
2 big garlic cloves (or to taste), finely chopped
400 g risotto rice (about 500 ml)
250 ml dry white wine
pinch of saffron (optional)
30 ml finely grated lemon rind
fresh lemon juice to taste (roundabout 65 ml)
more grated lemon rind (if you like)
50 – 80 g salted butter
salt and freshly-milled black pepper
grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
In a saucepan, heat the stock and keep it heated. In another saucepan, heat the oil and lightly brown the onion. Add the garlic and rice and lightly cook while stirring until the rice is glossy. Add the wine and saffron (if using) and keep stirring.
As soon as the wine has nearly all evaporated, add a big ladle of hot stock to the pan plus the 30 ml grated lemon rind. Lower the heat to medium to prevent the rice from cooking too quickly – you want to develop its creamy starch. Keep adding ladles of stock stirring constantly, literally ‘coaxing’ the starch out of the rice. Allow each addition of stock to be absorbed by the rice before adding the next. Be patient: this could take up to 20 minutes while you are continuously stirring and adding ladles of stock one after the other.
When you think your rice is ready, bite into a few kernels — is it done? It should be soft with a slight bite to the center. If not, carry on ‘stocking and stirring’ until the risotto is cooked to your liking. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.
Remove the pan from the heat and add lemon juice to taste as well as more lemon rind if you like. You make it as tart as you like.
Finally add the butter and enough Parmesan to your taste and budget and stir well. Cover and allow it to sit for a minute or so for the butter and cheese to melt and produce a risotto rich, creamy and as oozy as it can be.
Serve at once as risotto hates waiting around and grows odd, plump kernels that are dry and cloggy.
Chef’s hint: Some like it hot, so if you are one for hot stuff, then add dried red chili flakes to taste while you fry your onions. Lemon and chili is a very good combination for a starch – enjoy!