Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Caramelized Onion Risotto

Caramelized Onion Risotto

Who here has played the game two truths and a lie?

Let's play:

Statement #1: Risotto is difficult to make.

Statement #2: Risotto is one of the most delicious foods on the planet and cooking it will impress your cat, your lover, your dentist, and your mom.

Statement #3: Onions are a miracle vegetable that taste like unicorn tears when caramelized low and slow in olive oil.

Statement #1 is most definitely a lie. Since risotto requires constant stirring for 30 minutes, it sometimes gets a bad rep for being difficult or annoying to make. To that I say, preposterous! It's so simple a child could make it. Well, a really patient child who's allowed to play with hot stoves and cook with wine.

This is my favorite version of risotto that I've ever made. As I indicated above, I'm a huge fan of caramelized onions, and could probably eat them straight from the pan and be happy. Instead of doing that, I stirred them into a cheesy risotto, and cried happy tears over my delicious plate of carbohydrates.

Here's what you'll need:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium yellow onions, halved through the root and thinly sliced lengthwise
Kosher salt
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (Please don't use the stuff that comes in the green shaker! Grate it yourself, or buy the kind that comes in a plastic tub and is sold by weight.)
Black pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil until shimmering over medium-high heat in a very large, heavy bottomed, deep skillet. Add the onions, and reduce heat to medium. Cook without stirring for 5-7 minutes, or until the bottom of the pan begins to brown. Sprinkle the onions with 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt and stir. Continue to cook, adjusting the heat as needed, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pan until the onions are well browned, 20-35 minutes. When I caramelize onions I don't like to rush them along, so I knocked the heat down to medium-low. It took the full 35 minutes for them to reach the color you see in the photo.

While the onions are caramelizing, heat the broth, and 2 cups of water in a large saucepan over medium heat. If the mixture starts to simmer during the cooking process, turn the burner down to medium-low.

Transfer the onions to a bowl, cover with foil, and keep warm. Add 1/2 cup of the hot broth mixture to the pan you cooked the onions in. Scrape the bottom of the pan until the stuck-on bits are released, and pour the liquid back into the broth mixture. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel.

Using the same pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the rice, and cook, stirring frequently for 1 minute, until the edges are translucent. Add the wine, and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently, until it has absorbed. Ladle 1/2 cup of the broth mixture over the rice, and simmer, stirring constantly, until most of the broth has been absorbed. Keep adding broth in this manner, stirring constantly, until the rice is tender with just a bit of a bite to it, about 20-30 minutes. You might not need all the broth - I had about 1/2 cup left.

Immediately stir in the butter, cheese, and all but 1/3 cup of the caramelized onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and top with the reserved onions when serving.

I always hesitate to list an amount of servings with recipes like this, because it can vary so drastically depending on your appetite, and what you're serving alongside a particular dish. People always ask me though, so I just wanted to let you guys know that I ate this risotto alone, with no salad or meat or anything, and got 3 meals out of it. (Although it was tempting to polish off the whole thing!)

Source: Adapted from Fine Cooking

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  1. I'm not really sure what unicorn tears taste like, but I love the description!

  2. I would love nothing more than to go at a cauldron of caramelized onions with an enormous fork! I can only imagine how tasty they must be with risotto. Thanks for the risotto pep talk too!

  3. I agree with statement number 2 and 3. 100% I have had risotto on the brain lately so thios recipe comes just in time! How do you feel about pickled red onions??? I just made a giant batch and have been putting them on everything!!!

  4. I love caramelized onions. I was just thinking literally seconds before coming here that a grilled cheese with a huge pile of caramelized onions sounded like the most delicious food ever-- I was wrong, this sounds better.

    I've never tried to make risotto (at least not real risotto), I find the most intimidating part to be finding/buying the right kind of rice, there's like 40 different kinds at my grocery store!

  5. Yum! I love risotto, and it's TOTALLY easy to make if you're patient :)

  6. Risotto and Caramelized Onions are two things I LOVE! Can't wait to make this!

  7. I hate that so many people think risotto is difficult to make! I'm obsessed with trying different versions and I'm totally going to have to add this one to the list :)


  8. Your blog is great! Definitely need to make this:)

  9. Just made this tonight with Neufchatel cheese since I didn't have any parmesan--creamy and delicious! Onions and rice were all I had in the house, so I was thrilled to find a recipe I could actually make. Thanks, I love your blog!


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