Risotto is one of my favorite versitile dishes. It can be a main course or a side, and you can leave it pretty unadorned or add one of a huge number of other foods to change the taste – seafoods, spices, veggies, etc. This version is pretty simple with fresh broccoli and hard cheese. The preparation takes a while and requires your attention, but the product is well worth it. The measurements below make a lot of risotto (they will be lunches for me all week long) but you can easily cut the recipe in half.
Step 1: Heat 4 cups of chicken or veggie stock over high heat until boiling, and then reduce the heat so the stock stays at a simmer.
Step 2: Roughly chop half of a large onion and sautee it in about 1 tbsp of butter and 3 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat until the onion is translucent. Add 2 cups of arborio rice and cook the rice with the onion for a minute or two.
Step 3: Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the hot stock to the rice mixture. Stir the rice and stock a little until the liquid is evenly distributed, then give it another 4-6 stirs. Lower the heat to medium low, and let the rice cook, stirring only occasionally. When the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, add another 1/2-3/4 cup of stock and do the initial stirring (until the water is absorbed, then 4-6 more stirs).
Step 4: Meanwhile, trim and cut up the broccoli. I used two medium sized stalks of broccoli (including the peeled stems – the stems have great flavor and nutrition!) and cut them to a uniform, small size.
Sautee the broccoli in a little olive oil over medium heat until bright green, then add about 1/4 cup stock to the pan and cover and cook, letting the broccoli steam itself until tender but not mushy. It should be like an al dente pasta. Remove from the heat.
Step 5: At this point you should have added most of the stock to the rice, letting it be absorbed after each addition. When the rice is close to being done, with a slight amount of white still inside when you bite into it, add the broccoli and stir for a while until it is all combined. Continue to add stock until the rice is completely cooked, and if you run out of stock start adding water, but make sure to heat the water to a simmer before adding it to the rice. When the rice is completely cooked the dish should have a creamy texture, but you should still be able to see the individual grains of rice in it.
Step 6: Add 3/4 cup grated hard italian cheese. I used a parmesean and pecorino mix, because that’s what I had in the fridge, but either one would work on its own, or even a non-Italian hard cheese like manchego would be great. Stir the cheese in and then remove the pot from the heat. At this point you should taste and add salt and pepper as you like. (Stocks differ in their saltiness, so I always salt at the end to avoid having too much salt) You can serve it now, or it keeps really well in the fridge for later.