Ever since we’ve given up driving, one sure way to get me to make a dish is that it requires no trip to the market. Another inducement is a request for it from my better half. Recently these two incentives merged and led me to prepare Lidia Bastianich’s Garlic Risotto.
I was lucky to have all the ingredients on hand—even the scallions, which I had previously purchased for another dish. Most of the others that the recipe calls for are probably in any Italian-focused kitchen: garlic, onion, extra-virgin olive oil, butter, Parmigiano, wine, and of course some variety of risotto rice.
Little did I know that this same argument for the dish was made by Lidia in an episode of her cooking show on PBS that my husband called me in to view. “See,” he said, “we have everything, it looks delicious, why not make it.” I had to agree, the use of a prodigious amount of garlic, some 14 large cloves, in a risotto intrigued me.
When I went online to search for the recipe (as I’ve said in an earlier post, Lidia can be rather vague when it comes to specific quantities and times), I discovered that it was included in one of her books that I have in my collection: Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking. There was, however, one discrepancy between the televised preparation and those presented both online and in print: neither of the latter two included the scallions, which I believe bring an additional and distinctive alliaceous nuance to the dish. For this reason, I’ve included it in my adaptation of the recipe.
Finally, don’t let the thought of using so much garlic deter you from making this delicious risotto. The way the garlic is prepped (minced in wine) and slowly cooked yield a sweet yet pungent flavor.
Garlic Risotto (adapted from Commonsense Italian Cooking by Lidia Bastianich)
7 cups or more chicken broth or stock
Kosher salt, to taste
14 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 cup dry white wine (a crisp Sauvignon Blanc work perfectly)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups Carnaroli rice (you can use another variety such as arborio)
1 bunch scallions, chopped with green and white parts separated
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for serving
1. Bring the chicken broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan and, if necessary, season with salt.
2. In a blender or food processor, purée the garlic and white wine. (The garlic will not actually be a purée, but rather finely minced in the wine.)
3. Heat the olive oil a large, shallow, straight-sided pot over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions, and cook until they are tender, about 5 minutes.
4. Raise the heat to medium–high. Add the rice all at once, and stir continuously until the grains are toasted but not colored, about 2 minutes.
5. Add the wine–garlic purée, and cook until the liquid is almost absorbed.
6. Reduce the heat to medium and ladle in about 1 cup of the broth, stir, and cook until the liquid is almost absorbed, about 2 to 3 minutes. Run a wooden spoon or spatula through the rice to make a path through it to see if the broth has been absorbed
7. Add the chopped white parts of the scallions.
8. Ladle in another cup of broth, and again simmer until the liquid is almost absorbed.
9. Continue cooking and adding broth in this manner until rice is al dente, about 20 minutes in all from the first cup of broth. Midway through this process, add the green parts of the scallions. As the risotto cooks, taste for seasoning as well as doneness.
10. Turn off the heat, beat in the butter. (This process is called mantecare, or mounting, or enriching, the risotto.)
11. Stir in the cheese, and serve immediately in warmed bowls accompanied by additional cheese.
Wine Pairing: Sauvignon Blanc, Prosecco, Vermentino