For a recent dinner party I contemplated spending all my time in the kitchen stirring risotto ceaselessly to produce the perfect creamy and finely textured risotto I love. I researched a baked version, and determined that my guests would prefer my attention to the perfectly fashioned risotto I usually make. I baked the risotto varying on a recipe I found in Donna Hay Magazine (issue 33, winter 2007) (recipe follows). The final texture reminded me more of Paella than risotto–there was none of the signature creaminess that I expect with risotto but the flavor was very good and as the risotto was filling more of a side dish role in the meal (served with Chicken fricasseed with sage, prosciutto, garlic and white wine–the quality was acceptable.

Baked Risotto

(based on Donna Hay Magazine issue 33)

Serves 5

2 cups Arborio Rice

4 cups chicken stock (low salt or homemade)

1 cup white wine

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons finely chopped onion

2 cups grated Parmigiano

salt and pepper

A few threads of saffron (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F

In a heavy bottomed pot large enough to hold rice in a layer not more than 1” thick, melt 3 tablespoons of butter, add finely chopped onion and allow to cook until onions are translucent (do not allow them to cover). Add rice and mix in onion mixture making sure to coat the rice thoroughly (about 3 minutes of stirring). Add cup of white wine to rice, cook—stirring constantly until wine has been absorbed by rice. Add 4 cups of chicken stock (warm it in microwave or on stove top) and saffron if using. Mix chicken stock into rice thoroughly. Cover pot with tin foil tightly and place in oven. Cook for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes remove rice from oven and check for doneness. Add remaining butter and all Parmigiano. Mix thoroughly and serve immediately.

Stirred Risotto

(based on Marcella Hazan’s recipe in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)

Serves 6

5 cups stock

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup white wine

2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped

2 cups Arborio Rice

½ cup (heaping) Parmigiano*

1/3 teaspoon Saffron

Bring broth to a boil, lower to a simmer and add saffron. 1 tablespoon butter in a pot, add onion, cook until translucent. Add rice, stir to coat. Add wine, stir rice until evaporated. Add liquid ½ cup at a time, stir constantly. After 30 minutes begin checking for doneness. When rice is 1-2 minutes from being done add remaining butter and Parmigiano, stir until melted. Remove from heat, season to taste, serve promptly.