Tips for making creamy risotto

  • Lemon asparagus risotto is great for grilled summer fare, like salmon or boneless, skinless chicken breast. TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE

Detroit Free Press
Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Risotto is an Italian short-grain rice dish that is cooked slowly in a flavorful liquid. One tends to think of risotto as more of fall-winter dish. But it’s really a satisfying side dish good anytime of the year. And if you pair it with summer ingredients, it fits right in.

Arborio is the most commonly used rice for risotto; it soaks in the liquid and still holds its shape. When making risotto, what happens is the rice slowly begins to take on a plumpness as you swirl in the heated broth. You can also use farro or barley to make risotto.

Risotto, with all the stirring that’s typically involved, means it’s not something you whip up at a moment’s notice. You can’t dump the ingredients in a pan, set it over the heat and walk away. Risotto takes about 40 minutes.

The end result is rice that is al dente — firm to the bite. If your risotto has not reached this stage, continue adding more broth, a little at a time.

Here are a few tips for perfecting risotto:

Use a wide skillet with deep sides rather than a deep saucepot. It’s easier to stir in the broth so it coats all the rice.

For 6-8 side-dish servings, use 2 cups of Arborio, about 4 cups of broth and 1 cup of white wine (or use all broth, if you prefer). As a main dish, this amount will serve 4.

Cook over medium heat. Too low heat, and the risotto will be soggy. If the heat is too high, the liquid evaporates too fast before the rice can absorb enough of it to cook and plump it up.

You can prepare it a few hours in advance if you need to. Several hours before serving, prepare the risotto three-fourths of the way through cooking. When ready to serve, finish cooking until the rice is firm.

Lemon asparagus risotto


4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ cup diced shallots

1 clove garlic, peeled, minced

1 cup Arborio rice

½ cup white wine

2 cups asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces and steamed

2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper


In a medium saucepan, heat the chicken broth over medium-low heat while preparing risotto.

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the shallots, stirring until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and rice and continue to stir and cook until rice is lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Add wine to rice mixture, stirring constantly until liquid has evaporated, about 4 minutes. Add broth to rice, one ladleful at a time, stirring constantly and allowing liquid to absorb completely before adding more broth. This will take about 20 minutes. Add asparagus with the last ladleful of broth. Once liquid is absorbed, remove saucepan from heat. Add lemon juice and zest to risotto and stir to combine. Add Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and combine. Serve immediately.

Makes 8 (½ cup servings)