At the beginning of 2011, I set 5 cooking techniques I wanted to learn. One of them was to learn how to cook risotto. I tried several times last year, but I never got it right. No matter how long I cooked and stirred and added more liquid, I ended up with rice that was crunchy in the center.

 

I had just about given up on risotto when I cooked a recipe the other week for chicken thighs cooked on top of regular rice in the oven. The rice went into the oven uncooked. It came out cooked very nicely. I wondered, “Can this be done with Arborio rice for risotto, too?”

 

I did a search, and I found out that yes, risotto can be cooked in the oven. Last night, I gave it my first try. I used the simplest recipe I could find, Martha Stewart’s Oven-Baked Risotto. I didn’t want to get too fancy or use too many ingredients in case it didn’t turn out.

 

The beauty of this method — besides the fact that it works — is that it’s less time-consuming than the traditional stovetop method. Once you pop the rice in the oven, you leave it alone. When you do risotto on the stove, there’s a constant stirring and adding of liquid. I was able to put the rest of dinner together while this cooked in the oven.

 

Ingredients

 

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 2 to 2 1/4 cup hot water, divided
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
 

Directions

 

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Heat a medium-sized, oven-proof Dutch oven or pot with a lid on the stove over medium heat.
  3. Add the olive oil and allow it to heat.
  4. Saute the onion in the olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Don’t allow it to burn.
  5. Add the Arborio rice, stir to coat thoroughly with olive oil for about 1 minute.
  6. Add the white wine and stir until the wine has burned off, about 3 minutes.
  7. Add 1 1/2 cups of hot water, chicken stock, salt and pepper, and stir until thoroughly mixed.
  8. Put the lid on the pot, and place in oven for 20-25 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed but the rice is still creamy, not dried out. (Check at 20 minutes).
  9. When all liquid is absorbed, pull out of oven, add 1/2 to 3/4 cup hot water (add the 1/2 cup first and if it still needs more to be really creamy, add the rest), Parmesan cheese and butter. Stir. Toss in parsley. Serve.
 

My notes

 

  • Always leave a potholder over the pan you used once you take it out of the oven to remind yourself it was just in the oven. The pot I used is one I rarely use in the oven, and when it came time to throw the parsley in, I removed the lid with just my hands without thinking. Fortunately, it had been out of the oven for a bit at that point, but it was still really hot.
  • This had a very mild flavor, probably because it used more water than chicken stock/broth. It was still delicious, but next time, I’ll try a recipe that uses more stock, less water.
  • Purists will probably balk at making risotto this way, but I don’t really care. It was easy, it worked and my family loved it.
 

Other oven risotto recipes that caught my attention

 

Tease photo of risotto dish: Shutterstock

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.