This is the most basic risotto. But just because it’s basic doesn’t mean it’s not great: This dish is all about the crunchy yet creamy rice combined with the nuttiness of Parmesan. I serve this basic version as a side to main dishes that have strong, flavored sauces, using the simplicity of the rice to offset the complexity of the entrée.
In a Medium Saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Cover the broth and keep hot over low heat.
In a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat.
Add the onion and sauté until tender but not brown, about 3 minutes.
Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter.
Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes.
Add ½ cup of simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.
Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total.
Remove from the heat.
Stir in the Parmesan cheese, the remaining tablespoon of butter, and the salt and pepper.
Transfer the risotto to a serving bowl and serve immediately.
You can add just about anything you want to basic risotto: prosciutto, vegetables such as peas, seafood such as shrimp, or herbs and other seasonings such as saffron. (The recipe that follows is for one of my favorite variations of the basic risotto, with wild mushrooms and peas.) But you usually don’t want these ingredients to cook for 30 minutes with the rice, or they’d become overcooked—tough, dry, and flavorless. So instead of cooking these other ingredients with your rice, cook them separately. To save dirtying another pan, you can cook the other ingredients before you start with the basic risotto recipe, in the same pan that you’ll use for the rice. On the other hand, to save time, you can use another pan, and cook them while you’re making the risotto.