The constant stirring a risotto requires can be a barrier of entry for some home cooks, but think of it as 20 minutes just for yourself – a meditation if you will. Relax, pour a glass of crisp white wine and slowly stir together this creamy, lemony risotto al limone.
Arborio rice (or carnaroli if you can find it) is the perfect rice for making risotto. It’s an Italian short-grain rice with a high starch content. It’s chewy, creamy and holds its shape well during the cooking process.
The key with risotto is to cook it slowly, gradually adding stock to the rice as it absorbs it. Additions of lemon, heavy cream and parmesan cheese are added in right at the end to infuse the risotto with an ample kick of acidity and creaminess. Top with extra grated parm if you so desire (I always do).
Note: this recipe has been adapted from the book: Via Carota: A Celebration of Seasonal Cooking from the Beloved Greenwich Village Restaurant
Ingredients You’ll Need:
Scroll to the bottom of the recipe card for ingredient notes and substitutions.
Pro Tips: Look for the softest, juiciest lemons you can get— rather than cold, hard, odorless ones. Make sure you grate the Parmigiano using the finest side of the box grater, so the cheese effortlessly dissolves into the warm risotto.
Recipe Step by Step:
Step 1. Saute the Shallot
Saute the shallot over medium-low heat. In a separate pot bring the chicken stock to a simmer then set to low to stay warm.
Step 2. Simmer and Stir the Rice
Add the rice and stir to coat with the shallot and butter. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the rice is translucent. Add the wine and cook until it is absorbed. Add 1 cup of the hot stock and cook, stirring constantly, until the stock is absorbed. Continue adding the stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly, until the rice is cooked through and the risotto is creamy, about 18-20 minutes total.
Step 3. Serve
Just before serving, stir in the cream, parmesan cheese, lemon zest and juice. Taste and season with salt. Serve immediately.
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Risotto al Limone (Lemon Risotto)
- 4 tbsp butter
- 2 medium shallots or onion
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 6 cups chicken stock or water
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp lemon zest about one lemon
- 4 oz grated parmesan cheese plus more for serving
- 2 tbsp minced preserved lemon rind optional
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- In a small saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to lowest setting just to keep warm.
- Next, heat a medium sized skillet or dutch oven over medium. Add the butter, as soon as it melts add the minced shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the rice and stir until evenly coated in butter.
- Next pour in the wine and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring frequently, until all of the liquid is absorbed into the rice, about 2 minutes.
- Next, begin to gradually add the chicken stock, ½-1 cup (enough to just barely cover the rice) at a time, stirring frequently until absorbed before adding in more. Continue this process over a period of about 15 minutes, adding more stock as each previous amount is absorbed. Cook until rice is al dente and risotto is creamy and saucy, about 18 minutes total. (If you need more liquid because you run out of hot broth, you can simply use hot water.)
- Turn off heat. Stir in the heavy cream, grated parmesan cheese lemon juice and zest. Season to taste with salt. Divide among 4 shallow bowls and garnish with preserved lemon and extra grated parmesan (optional). Serve immediately.
- Rice: Arborio is the go-to, and most readily available rice for risotto. Carnaroli is also traditional and delicious, but harder to track down.
- Chicken Stock: Vegetable stock or water can be substituted instead of chicken stock.
- Preserved Lemon: Preserved lemons add a punch of tangy, briny complexity to any dish. They’re optional in this recipe but if you happen to have some they do add a nice additional layer of lemon flavor.
- Leftover risotto will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Reheat over low heat in a pot on the stovetop with a bit of water or stock to loosen up the mixture.