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The Best Basic Risotto Recipe

The risotto method takes 16 minutes to finish cooking from the point that you first add liquid, including the last minute or so of “mounting” the risotto. Start your timer at 16 minutes from the moment you first add the broth! Here in our kitchen, we never DON’T set the timer.
Servings: 4
Author: Denise Pardini, Hotel Castello di Sinio


  • cup rice (Arborio or Canaroli)
  • 6 cups broth
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 small onion finely, evenly diced
  • 1 clove garlic, grated on Microplane
  • fresh herb (as needed)
  • 2 TBS olive oil for sauteeing
  • 3 TBS butter
  • ¾ cup grated Parmiggiano


  • Start your broth in a small saucepan over medium heat. In the time it takes to make the onion and garlic base, your broth is ready to go.
  • Finely dice the onion and grate the garlic on a medium-sized Microplane. In a heavy bottomed-wide, steep-sided dutch oven, heat the olive oil and gently sauté' the diced onion and garlic, taking care not to brown them, stirring frequently. It is important to sauté' the vegetables slowly to develop the flavor, cook off the harshness of both the onion and garlic and to develop their sweetness. If you hurry this step too much, the risotto will not have the depth that makes the dish truly great, and the onions and garlic will be harsh, instead of haunting and deeply flavorful. This step should take about 7 to 8 minutes.
  • Add the rice to the onion mixture and “toast” the rice, stirring constantly until it becomes slightly translucent and you see a point of white in each kernel - about 3 minutes. Take care to not let the onion brown. Turn down the heat slightly if needed.
  • Turn up the heat slightly and add the ½ cup of white wine, stirring constantly and rather vigorously. Sweep your wooden spoon across the bottom and sides of the pan to prevent sticking, or at least to impede the rice sticking so it does not start to burn.
  • Now, set your timer for 16 minutes. Once the rice has absorbed the wine and when the pot is quite dry, add 1.5 cups of the hot broth, or two ladles full, continuing to stir vigorously, loosening any rice that has started to stick in spots incorporating it well into the mass. The surface of the rice and broth should bubble evenly but not so much that the broth evaporates instead of being absorbed by the rice. Conversely, if the rice is not bubbling vigorously enough, the rice will just steam and become mushy before it is done.
  • Continue to add 1 cup of broth each time the rice has absorbed all the liquid, adjusting the heat to achieve the correct balance. After adding about 3 or 4 cups of broth, taste the rice to get a sense of how it is cooking and to understand the general seasoning level.
  • Add another cup or two, reserving ½ cup for the finishing process. Taste for doneness. The rice should be al dente or offer some resistance to the tooth but not chalky.
  • When the rice is tender but still quite toothsome, you'll need to work quickly to do the finishing process. Call everyone to the table and put your plates in the oven to warm.
  • Add only about ¼ cup of the remaining broth. Stir well to incorporate and make sure the rice is bubbling well. Taking the pot off the stove, add the butter and vigorously stir in circles while shaking the pan back and forth to incorporate and “mount” the butter. Add the Parmigiano and continue to stir vigorously.
  • At this point, you can add cooked vegetables cut into small pieces and cubed chicken or prawns.
  • Taste for seasoning. Add a pinch or two of salt if needed. If the risotto has thickened up a bit and it has the tendency to do so, add a bit of the reserved ¼ cup broth until the risotto is “easy” but not soupy. Serve immediately.


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