Easy-to-Customize Four Cheese Risotto

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My procrastination on blogging this week means you get two posts! Yay!!! First up, my recipe for Three Cheese Risotto, which I have been putting off writing ALL WEEK. Not really for any reason, life just got in the way. But, I finally got all the pictures edited and ready for you!

 

I love risotto. I don’t know that I can say that enough. I think I was probably a little late to boarding the risotto train. I used to think there couldn’t possibly be something special about a bowl of rice. I was so wrong! A couple years ago, I tried it at a restaurant, and almost didn’t eat the prime rib that was the main part of my dinner because I was loving the risotto so much! What’s not to love about creamy, cheesy rice that has a slight white wine taste? Nothing. Well, except maybe the fact that everyone talks about how difficult it is to make. In fact, if you watch people make it on Food Network, they almost boast about how difficult and time-consuming it is. They always end that point by saying, “But, it’s worth it“. I don’t know about you, but spending hours slaving away on a side dish does not seem like fun to me. And I love cooking!

So, needless to say, I spent years craving risotto, but was too intimidated to actually try making it at home. That is, until I found a recipe for Spring Asparagus Risotto from Thug Kitchen. If you have never read Thug Kitchen, it is really great! I have found some of my favorite recipes there. If you are offended by bad language, however, keep away. It’s definitely NSFW.

When I found this recipe, I thought I was in heaven! Risotto and asparagus in one dish? Sign me up! Also, making a point that you don’t have to constantly stir the risotto when you add broth got me interested, because it would definitely cut down on time spent in front of the stove. I gave it a try, and it is delicious. Creamy, just like what you would get in a restaurant. The asparagus is green and not mushy, and the lemon zest brightens it up! It’s a perfect spring dish!

Then I got to thinking, I know that people say to warm up the broth because putting cold broth into a pot of risotto can make the rice seize up. Not only was I not sure what that meant, but if “they” were wrong about having to stir risotto constantly, couldn’t they be wrong about having to use warm broth?

You know what? They are. I started using broth that I did not warm up, and it worked just fine. It still gets a perfect texture. It might take a little longer for the broth to be absorbed, but since you don’t have to babysit it constantly, I don’t find it to be a big deal. Once I got the process down, I started playing around with flavors. Which is where I got the recipe I’m going to share with you today: Four Cheese Risotto. To start out, keep in mind that if you don’t like the cheeses I chose for this recipe, you can make it with basically any cheese, as long as it melts into a creamy texture. I have even used cream cheese, and it was delicious! I started out with the same basic recipe as Thug Kitchen, but tweaked it to fit my tastes, and you can definitely do the same!

onions edited

I love shallots. They aren’t always in season though, so if you can’t find them, sweet onion works too! I have used both, and they are both equally delicious. If you don’t like onion, you can cut back the amount, but I don’t know that I would cut it out completely. It wouldn’t ruin the dish, but they basically melt away, so once the risotto is done, there aren’t big chunks of onion floating around. It just makes the flavor deeper, in my opinion.

step one edited

You don’t have to completely caramelize the shallots, just getting them opaque and a little golden works for me. They continue cooking with the rice. This picture makes me hungry for caramelized onions though. I am so weird, I could eat a bowl of caramelized onions. Yum…

 

toasting rice edited

The Thug Kitchen recipe is totally right, toasting the rice is totally necessary! Not only does it make the rice more flavorful, it also makes it easier to soak up all the wine and broth that is going to go into the pot later. It doesn’t take very long, just until you can smell the toasty rice, which will take a minute or two.

wine edited

After adding the wine, it will take a little time for it to get absorbed. You don’t need it to be completely dry before going onto the next step. It already is starting to look creamy, isn’t it?

bubbling rice edited

When you put in the broth, you will probably get worried for a second, because it looks like a lot of liquid for the amount of rice. It gets better, I promise. Just let it simmer, and stir it every once in a while, and it will turn out! By the way, I use chicken and vegetable broth because boxes of broth are 4 cups, and I have vegetable broth base on hand. Feel free to use just chicken broth, or just vegetable broth. Or, any kind of broth you want, depending on what flavors you’re using and what you’re eating with it.

cheese edited

 

Look at all of this delicious cheese! I tend to go a little heavy on the cheese, probably because I live in the Upper Midwest! You definitely could do one or two kinds of cheese, and only do a cup or so, but it won’t taste as decadent. Right here, I have extra sharp cheddar, mozzarella, blue, and Asiago. Once the cheese is added, you can season to taste. You probably won’t need to add more salt, since the cheese is already salty.

nom nom risotto

I love this blue Fiestaware plate, but I swear it looks like Macaroni and Cheese from a box. I promise it’s not that same fluorescent orange color. It looks like a mound of cheesy deliciousness. I also add more black pepper to mine, but I really love pepper, so of course I do!

Four Cheese Risotto

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 c chopped shallots or sweet onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c Arborio rice
1/2 c dry white wine or sherry
1/2 c vegetable broth
1/4 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/4 tsp pepper, plus more to taste
pinch red pepper flakes
4 c chicken broth
2-3 c cheese, grated or crumbled

  1. In a medium pot over medium heat, heat up the oil until shimmering. Add the onions with a small pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until opaque and slightly browned. Then add the garlic and rice. Stir until rice smells toasted and looks like it has absorbed some of the oil, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the wine, vegetable broth, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the wine has been absorbed.
  3. Add 2 cups of the broth, bring to a simmer, then lower heat to keep it simmering, but do not boil. Stir occasionally until broth is almost completely absorbed, about 5 minutes. Add remaining broth, cook about another 5 minutes, remembering to stir, until the rice is almost done and looks like it is cooking in a thick gravy.
  4.  Add the cheese, and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper, being sure not to over salt.
  5. Serve with extra pepper if desired.

 

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