Low Maintenance Risotto

Growing up Chinese I was very ho-hum when it came to rice.  It was one of those staples that you only missed when it wasn’t there, but nothing to get excited about, given how we ate it everyday.  But rice mixed with other ingredients in dishes like fried rice or Mexican rice?  Delish!  I am always on the look-out for simple recipes that stretch the use of other ingredients with a cheap staple like rice.  It doesn’t take much to take rice from ho-hum to clear-the-bowl-or-plate delicious.

One of those recipes is creamy risotto, the perfect dish for cold, rainy (or snowy) days like we’ve been having lately.  But if you’ve ever made risotto, you know how much attention and time it takes to make, given all the constant stirring while the rice absorbs all the liquid you add to it, ladleful by ladleful.  That is, until I came across this recipe from Real Simple magazine.  It is for low maintenance risotto.  Unlike traditional risotto recipes, you add about half the stock all at once and let the rice simmer until almost all the liquid has been absorbed, stirring periodically to prevent the rice from sticking.  Then you add the remaining stock and simmer away until you’re left with creamy risotto.  The resulting dish may be a tad less creamy than traditional versions, but it is just as delicious and satisfying.

Low Maintenance Risotto – adapted from Real Simple magazine

3 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 onion, finely chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup Arborio rice, rinsed and drained *

1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth, or dry white wine

3-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more if needed

1/2 cup (2 oz) finely grated Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving


Melt 2 Tbsps of butter in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add the onions, 1/2 tsp salt, and pepper, to taste (~ 1/4 tsp).  Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the rice.  Cook, stirring for about 2 minutes.

Add the 1/2 cup chicken broth or wine.  Simmer until absorbed.

Add half of the remaining chicken broth, 1-3/4 cups.  Bring to a simmer, stirring periodically to prevent the rice from sticking to the skillet, until the broth has been absorbed.  (Your skillet will not be bone dry, as the rice exudes some of its starches, forming a translucent, creamy sauce that appears when you push back the rice with a spoon).

Add the remaining broth, another 1-3/4 cups, and again, bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the broth has been absorbed, and the rice is tender and creamy.  (If the rice is not cooked all the way through and isn’t tender enough, add more broth, and continue to cook until tender). Turn off heat.

Stir in the grated cheese and the remaining tablespoon of butter until everything has melted.

Sprinkle with additional grated cheese for serving, if desired.

Yield:  4 servings

Low-maintenance risotto - just as good as the constant-stir one!

Low-maintenance risotto – just as good as the constant-stir one!

This recipe doubles easily no problem.  Just make sure you use a large enough skillet so that the rice and broth are spread over a large enough surface area for quicker cooking.

* I have yet to come across a risotto recipe that requires you to rinse the rice before using, but I always rinse my rice, a product of my Chinese upbringing.

What are some of your favorite rice dishes?  Please share in the comments.

About Serena Y Lee

Serena worked in the biotech industry for 18 years before leaving to pursue her life purpose – to live in freedom with creativity and simplicity. Her love for baking, creativity, and story-telling compelled her to start blogging to share her ideas with a wider audience.

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