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Easy Risotto for Beginners

Ask Casey: Cooking and Kitchen Questions Answered

I’ve wanted to try and make risotto for a long time, but I’m afraid the stirring will take forever and it will turn into a big gummy mess. I assume you have some masterful trick that will help me get over my fear, right?

Don’t throw rotten tomatoes, but I find the slow stirring of risotto to be a really contemplative experience (those of you who love to knead dough will know what I’m talking about).

There’s something calming about the process, watching the grains of rice plump up imperceptibly but ever so inevitably, feeling the steam of the aromatic broth on your face as you lean in to take a sniff.

And while you can make quote-unquote “risotto” in an Instant Pot, it’s just not the same to me, texture-wise.

easy risotto with peas
Photo: Casey Barber

I find that the grains cook to too soft of a consistency in a multicooker, making the final dish more of a pilaf than the perfect alchemy of chewy Arborio rice and sauce that it should be.

So I prefer to make my risotto the old-fashioned way, on the stovetop.

This is the way I’ve made it for decades, so yes—I do have a few tips and tricks for pulling together an easy risotto that doesn’t congeal into a gloppy paste on the plate.

Even more amazingly, this risotto doesn’t take hours to cook. I’m not going to say it’s a 30-minute meal, but it’s close.

easy risotto with peas
Photo: Casey Barber

Contrary to what you’ve heard, risotto will not immediately become a failure if you don’t stir it continuously. You can stop for a few seconds to to get something out of the fridge, grab your phone, or shoo the cat away from that piece of plastic he shouldn’t be chomping.

And you don’t need to stir it maniacally either. Just a few slow, swooping movements round the pan with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon are all that’s needed to keep things moving.

Use a wide, high-sided pan to facilitate the even absorption of the broth. My favorite risotto pan is my 3-quart All-Clad saute pan, but you can use a large skillet or Dutch oven as well.

Keep the heat at medium-low so the broth bubbles slowly, watching it thicken and turn opaque as the rice releases its starch into the liquid.

easy risotto with peas
Photo: Casey Barber

The following recipe is a little bit like the Venetian dish risi e bici, or “rice and peas,” and a little bit like the traditional risotto Milanese.

I’ve made this easy risotto so many times and in so many friends’ kitchens that at this point, I don’t even need to glance at the recipe.

Just remember 1 cup rice to 4 cups broth and you’ll be fine. Add more or less butter, more or less cheese, other vegetables, fresh herbs if you’ve got them, and it will still turn out.

So even though it’s a risotto that you can make in your sleep, you can tell people it has an authentic pedigree. Serving it on fancy dishware helps.

easy risotto with peas
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easy risotto with peas

Easy Risotto with Peas

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Risotto seems like an intimidating dish, but we have a few tips for making this Italian classic without breaking a sweat. Easy risotto in minutes!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow, sweet, or white onion, minced
  • 1 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, bring the broth and wine to a bare simmer. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm.
  2. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat and add the olive oil.
  3. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until softened but not browned.
  4. Add the rice and stir well to coat in the butter and oil. Cook for 1 minute to toast the rice grains, stirring once or twice.
  5. Add 1/2 cup of the broth to the rice and stir gently until most of the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Continue to add broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring gently as the rice continues to cook and absorb liquid.
  7. After 15-20 minutes, most of the broth should be absorbed and the rice should taste tender and chewy but slightly firm to the bite. There will still be a good amount of sauce in the pan with the rice; risotto isn't fluffy and dry like a pilaf, but retains a slightly soupy texture.
  8. Before you add your last ladleful of broth, stir in the peas—they'll thaw quickly and absorb some of the broth without becoming overcooked and wrinkly.
  9. Turn off the burner and stir in the remaining butter and Parmesan.
  10. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 524Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 139mgSodium: 463mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 33g

The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.

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