Bon Appetit's Best Risotto

8 servings.  This is from the collection of Bon Appetit's Best.  Chef Carla Lalli Music's recipe is the best risotto I've tried and what is risotto if not a vehicle for all kinds of goodness and experimentation, depending on the season.
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt, plus more
  • 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ large white onion, finely chopped (about 1½ cups)
  • 2 cups carnaroli  rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1¾ cups finely grated Parmesan, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Combine 1 Tbsp. salt and 10 cups water in a medium stockpot. Bring to a very bare simmer over medium heat.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a 6-qt. Dutch oven over medium. Cook onion and a pinch of salt, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent and starting to soften, 6–8 minutes. Add ½ cup water and cook, stirring often, until water evaporates and onion is sizzling in oil and completely tender and meltingly soft, about 5 minutes.

Add rice and stir well to coat with oil. Cook, stirring constantly, until grains of rice are translucent around the edges and they make a glassy clattering sound when they hit the sides and bottom of pot, about 5 minutes. This method coats the grains with oil and helps the rice cook evenly so that the outside does not become mushy before the center is tender. Add wine and another pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until wine is completely evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium, then add hot salted water to rice in ¾-cup increments, stirring constantly and allowing liquid to absorb fully before adding more, until rice is al dente and surrounded by fluid, not-too-thick creamy suspension, 25–30 minutes. It should take 2–3 minutes for each addition to be absorbed; if things are moving faster than this, reduce heat. Gradual absorption and constant agitation are key to encouraging the starches to release from the risotto, creating its trademark creamy consistency. You probably will not need all of the hot water, but err on the side of soup rather than sludge. The finished texture should be more of a liquid than a solid. Start checking the rice after about 15 minutes; the grains should be tender but not mushy, with a slightly firm center that doesn’t leave a chalky or gritty residue between your teeth after tasting. Do not overcook!

Remove pot from heat, add butter, and stir until melted. Gradually add 1¼ cups Parmesan, stirring until cheese is melted and liquid surrounding risotto is creamy but very fluid. Stir in more hot salted water if needed to achieve the right consistency. Taste and season with salt.

Divide risotto among warm bowls. Top each with a grind of pepper and Margot's Morsels Rockin' Rosemary, just slightly broken up...mwah! Perfect. Serve with a block of Parmesan  Reggiano and grater, for passing.

TOPPINGS

This is where it gets fun. Sautéed mushrooms in the winter, spring sugar snap peas cooked with either chives or green onions, fresh tomatoes in the summer...and morsels to your heart's content.

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