The time has come for comfort food. Like, really real comfort food and not just things like potato salad and spiced apple cake. I’m talking about warm, steamy foods that make you sigh happily into the bowl. The types of foods I like to eat while curled up under a blanket, wearing my favorite fleecy slippers, the ones my husband not-so-affectionately calls my “Stink Socks” (They’re clean! Not stinky! Oh, the injustice of it all.)
It is fricking freezing up in this joint these days, thanks to a Nor’easter that stormed through New Jersey and New York yesterday. In any other circumstance I would be thrilled to death by snowy, blowy, mitten-wearing weather, but for those who are still getting by after Hurricane Sandy ripped through, it’s a bit of a one-two punch. Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, said last night, “I am waiting for the locusts and pestilence”. I love the way that man minces his words.
I don’t trust the weather much these days, anymore than I trust that people who tell me broccoli is delicious (ugh). I know this place has a couple of totally random 60*F days left before we get into the thick of winter. It is a side eyed, suspicious gaze that I cast at the Weather Channel – I’ve lived decades of my life, getting excited at the start of winter only to find myself sweating through four layers of clothes on my way to work while the sun beats down mercilessly and tourists traipse around wearing sandals. I’m a girl from the icy tundra of northern Michigan, what can I say? Cold weather suits me.
You know what else suits me? No, not knit sweatpants with a stretchy band (although…) but risotto. Specifically this one, with its sunny, lemony tang edging out from behind all that creamy, cheesy goodness. Another stalwart from my Cibo e Bello book, this dish adds fuel to the fire that risotto is misunderstood convenience food. At the surface, it seems like it’s this crazy, time consuming deal, but in truth it is an underrated and low-key dish. All it requires out of you is stirring. And maybe some onion chopping. And cheese, naturally. You think I’d give you some comfort food without cheese in it!? Girl, please.
I know this is all Game of Thrones of me to say, but Winter is Coming. I’m serious. It’s coming and I have a very cute winter coat to show off, and plenty of time in the next few months to spend tucked up indoors with our radiator hissing and my stink socks on, stirring myself some more risotto. Here we go.
Lemon Parmesan Risotto Recipe
- 3 cups chicken broth or stock
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh thme leaves
- ½ cup shredded parmesan
- the zest and juice from one lemon
- Heat the chicken broth in a saucepan over medium heat until just simmering. Remove from the heat and set aside for a few minutes. Over medium heat in a medium-sized saucepot, heat the olive oil until shimmering and add the onion and salt. Cook until the onion has softened through, about three minutes. Add the rice and stir to combine. Cook, stirring often, until the rice has started to cook through. You’ll know it’s ready when the ends of the grains are starting to turn clear, and the center of each grain is still white.
- Add the white wine and deglaze the pan. Cook off the alcohol, about two to three minutes. Add the chicken stock ¼ cup at a time, stirring often and waiting until the liquid is mostly absorbed between each addition. When all of the chicken stock has been added continue to cook and stir until the risotto is creamy but not sticky or overly liquidy.
- Add the parmesan, thyme and lemon and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and freshly cracked pepper, if desired.
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