I know there are folks out there who think of risotto as “dinner porridge” or “wet rice”… I don’t claim to understand them, but I’m related to enough of them to be aware of their existence 😉 But round our way, risotto is on frequent rotation on our dinner menu. And I don’t think there’s a wrong time of year for risotto. We tend to fill it with pumpkin and sage in winter, asparagus or spinach or peas or sorrel in spring and summer, mushrooms in autumn… but onions are a perennial favourite.
You get two options for cooking – stove-top or oven. While the stand-and-stir stove-top method will give you a somewhat creamier risotto, I don’t think the difference is noticeable enough to warrant the effort if you have other things to do. Like finishing off that bottle of white wine.
Preparation & cooking about 1 hour and a half
The onions can be made ahead
2 – 3 medium-large yellow onions (about 450g / 1lb)
1 Tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper black pepper
120ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
8 sprigs thyme
40g (3 Tbsp) butter
30 ml (2 Tbsp) olive oil
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
120ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock
150g pecorino or other semi-hard cheese, grated
freshly ground black pepper
extra thyme for garnish
Halve the onions and slice into half-moons, about 1/2cm (1/5″) thick.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet, add the onions and cook on medium until starting to soften.
Reduce heat to very low and season well. Stir in the white wine and the thyme sprigs. Cook until the liquid has all evaporated and the onions are browned, stirring occasionally – 40 minutes to an hour.
Remove the thyme sprigs, set aside a spoonful of the onions for garnish, and set aside the remainder for the risotto.
Risotto – oven method
Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F) with a rack positioned in the lower section.
Put the oil and butter in a casserole on the stovetop over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the garlic and cook until fragrant but not browned, about two minutes.
Stir in the rice so it is well coated with oil and toast it for a couple of minutes. Pour in the wine and turn up the heat so it simmers away, stirring constantly. Add the stock and bring to a simmer.
Place the casserole in the oven for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Continue cooking until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is soft.
Risotto – stove-top method
Bring stock to a simmer in a saucepan.
In another large, heavy-based saucepan, heat the oil and butter, then cook the garlic for a couple of minutes, until fragrant but not browned.
Add the rice to the saucepan and stir to coat well.
Add the white wine and stir until it has evaporated.
Add the stock one ladle-full at a time, stirring constantly until each addition has been absorbed before adding the next. The whole process will take about 25 – 30 minutes until the stock has been used up and the rice is done.
Stir through the onions and grated pecorino.
Serve with a little extra freshly ground black pepper, top with a pinch of the reserved onions and garnish with a small sprig of thyme.