Momma Stella Risotto 5

Serve up this comfort dish to beckon spring while savoring winter

Knowing that spring is right around the corner after our marathon of wintery days brings comfort to more than our sandal-yearning toes. Transitioning into springtime lends a tendency toward cooking lighter meals, opening our windows despite the chill lingering in the breeze, and letting our creations in the kitchen mingle with the scents of the thawing earth—an aroma that has been sorely missed!

This departure from the hearty, cold-weather food recipes we tend to pack away with the snow shovel leaves me wanting to give an appropriate “Auld Lang Syne” tribute to my favorite comfort foods. The mother of all comfort foods is my Momma Stella Risotto, handed down to me from an elderly Italian neighbor many years ago. Risotto is the icon of Italian foods, known for its firm, creamy, and chewy texture that blends so perfectly with the rich flavors of broth, butter, cream, and cheese.

Much like America’s infamous macaroni and cheese, this delightful and tasty risotto is a culinary treat year-round, but who wants to be standing over the heat of a stove, stirring the pot for twenty minutes when the warm spring sun beckons? I like to savor our favorite winter meals in April before moving on to the handy patio barbecue grill for the next four months.

This recipe is easy to make and sure to be a family favorite. With a cooking time of 45 minutes, we’d better get started for this winter’s-end recipe that serves 8.

Ingredients:

+ 2 cups Italian cheese blend of Parmesan, Romano, 
and Asiago, grated
+ 3 cloves fresh garlic, finely diced
+ 1 cup fresh onion, diced
+ 1 tablespoon olive oil
+ 1½ tablespoons butter
+ 16 oz. bag of Arborio rice
+ 7 cups chicken broth
+ 1½ cups heavy cream
+ 2 tablespoons chives, chopped
+ salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Heat a large skillet over medium heat to melt butter. Add olive oil, garlic, and onion to sauté until onion is transparent and golden. Add the Arborio rice and stir in to coat each seed thoroughly. While stirring constantly, add 1 cup of chicken broth and continue to stir while the rice absorbs the liquid. When the liquid is gone, add another cup of broth, continuing to stir. Repeat this process, adding broth one cup at a time while stirring constantly. Don’t stop stirring! It’ll take about 20 minutes for the rice to be completely cooked (no longer crunchy), and the stirring is crucial to this process.

When all the broth is absorbed and the rice is cooked, turn off the heat and slowly pour in the heavy cream, mixing well. Add the cheeses and stir thoroughly. Taste to determine how much salt to add. I like to serve in individual bowls, so dish up then grind plenty of pepper over the top and sprinkle with chives. Call the family to the table as you savor this steaming risotto that might make you reconsider whether you’re actually ready to leave winter and its hearty meals behind.

Did you know?

Short-grained Arborio rice is named after the town in the Po Valley of Northern Italy where it is grown.