A Risotto Dinner.

Do you ever have a craving for something — a food, let’s say — and you simply can’t get enough?  And when you get your hands on the thing you’re craving — Breyer’s Smooth and Dreamy Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream, for example — do you have to just stuff yourself with it until your desire evaporates like summer rain on a hot sidewalk?  And then, do you not crave that item again for something like six months?

I am so that person.  I am the prime example of that person, and right now I want risotto.  I’ve been trying to space it out, maybe one risotto dish a week, but it’s been so hard.  I just want risotto all the time, so when I bumped into this lemon-centric recipe from Bon Appétit I was eager to test it out.  I mean, it has lemons and cheese and risotto, and I love eating all three of those things.  To put it bluntly, these could easily be my Desert Island Foods (along with Breyer’s Smooth and Dreamy Mint Chocolate Chip).  You know what, though?  I was kind of underwhelmed by the results.  Sad, but true.  The lemon flavor was really pronounced and quite lovely, but everything else kind of faded away into the background.  Since I couldn’t let risotto beat me at my own game, the very next night I pulled out the arborio rice for round two.

lemon-and-caramelized-onion-risotto1If I were a clever person, I would have sat down with a bowl of Bon Appétit‘s risotto and taken notes on a pad with each mouthful, analyzing as I chewed to determine was missing or what could be possibly added to enhance the dish.  Friends, I am not a clever person.  What I did instead was look around my kitchen to see what I had on hand, which is how I ended up grabbing an onion, snatching a hunk of Gruyère and rummaging around my (messy) spice cabinet for some nutmeg.

I decided to caramelize some onions because, seriously, what isn’t better with caramelized onions?  (Well, maybe Breyer’s Smooth and Dreamy Mint Chocolate Chip — haven’t tried that one yet.)  I also chose to use Gruyère instead of Parmesan in my version, in order to add Gruyère’s nuttiness to the crisp lemon flavor and the sweet onions.  So regardless of my ultra-scientific methods, I’m so pleased with how my risotto came out.  I’ve actually made my rendition of Bon Appétit‘s recipe a few times to bang out all the kinks; it’s a great dinner, especially alongside a fresh green salad.

Lemon + Caramelized Onion Risotto, adapted from Bon Appétit
Makes six first-course portions or four main-course portions

6 cups chicken broth (water is okay, too)
4 ½ tablespoons butter
2 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 large shallots, chopped
2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
¼ cup dry white wine
1 cup freshly grated Gruyère cheese
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons grated lemon zest

  1. Bring broth to simmer in large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low; cover to keep warm.
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Stir in the sliced onions until well coated, cover, and lower heat.  Stir occasionally until onions are translucent; remove cover, increase heat and continue to stir until the onions take on a really rich golden caramel color.  When the onions are done, remove them from the pan and set aside.
  3. Melt 1 ½ tablespoons butter with oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Add rice; stir 1 minute. Add wine and stir until evaporated, about 30 seconds. Add 1 ½ cups hot broth; simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining broth ½ cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is creamy and tender, about 35 minutes. Lower heat then stir in cheese and remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in nutmeg, parsley, lemon juice, lemon zest and caramelized onions. Season risotto with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve.
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