The creation of risotto is tied to the history of rice in Italy, making its debut in the Middle Ages. The Mediterranean was (and is) very humid and was found to be the perfect growing environment for short-grained rices. Genoa, Venice, and surrounding towns all made enormous profits from selling the grain. The creation of the risotto dish can be attributed to Milan. The city was under Spanish rule for a very long time, and rice was a popular staple of the area. Slow-cooking foods was very common in Milan, and this method was eventually used with rice, creating rich flavors and a creamy texture. The risotto, usually flavored with saffron, was typically served with another famous Milanese favorite: ossobuco, or stewed veal and marrow.
Since the Middle Ages, the methods and presentation of risotto has been largely unchanged. It’s creamy texture and deep flavors are pleasing to all. Popular variations may include seafood, truffles, veal, mushrooms, lemon, or pumpkin, but you can add whatever flavors you prefer. This particular version uses tangy lemon and sharp parmesan.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1 cup Arborio rice (or another short-grained rice)
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 cups vegetable stock, more as needed
2 tablespoons butter
2 egg yolks
Juice from 1 lemon
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
To a medium saucepan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onion and fry until translucent (approximately 3 minutes). Season with salt and pepper. Add the rice to the onions and fry for another two minutes until the rice begins to brown slightly.
Turn the heat down to low and add the white wine, stirring, until completely dissolved.
Begin adding the vegetable stock to the rice, one cup at a time, stirring frequently between additions. Continue to add one cup of stock at a time until the rice is cooked through and the risotto is creamy (approximately 20 minutes).
Remove the risotto from the heat. Add the butter and stir well. Add the lemon juice and egg yolk and stir well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with a generous topping of parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.