February 1, 2024

French Onion Risotto

The flavors you love in a warm and comforting bowl of French onion soup, but reimagined in velvety, creamy bowl of risotto.

This winter, I’ve fully embraced comforting meals. Whether it’s Brothy Beans & Greens, Spicy Calabrian Meatballs, or a variety of hearty and soul-warming soups, the focus has been on creating cozy comfort food, and I believe the website successfully delivered just that. I can’t close out the comfort food season without a nod to the epitome of comfort food – French onion soup. This French onion risotto is velvety and creamy, with sweet caramelized onions and a deep beef flavor. And unlike popular belief making this rich risotto is relatively easy and does not require an arm workout.

bowl of french onion risotto topped with caramelized onions and thyme.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED FOR FRENCH ONION RISOTTO

RISOTTO

  • Arborio Rice – If you are tempted to make this recipe with the long grain rice you have chilling in the back of your pantry, please don’t. Different varieties of rice have different starch levels, and risotto needs high-starch rice to give it its iconic creamy texture. Arborio is the most popular rice for risotto, available in almost any supermarket. If you want to elevate it even more, Carnaroli is the better grain, though harder to come by. You can find Carnaroli rice online HERE.
  • Beef Broth – Yes, beef instead of chicken for this recipe. Choose a flavorful beef broth; I like to use Better than Bouillon to make mine. Not only does it have great flavor, but I also have control over the intensity.
  • White Wine -The best rule of thumb is to use a wine you would drink. For this recipe, you need a dry white wine. My recommendation and go-to is Sauvignon Blanc, but if you prefer Pinot Grigio, go with that.
  • Thyme – Fresh only, about 6-7 sprigs.
  • Parmesan Cheese – As always, use fresh only. I made an executive decision when crafting this risotto to leave out the Gruyere cheese, which is the traditional cheese you would find on top of the iconic soup. Why? Gruyere is a very funky cheese, and while I do love it in moderation, the strong flavor would overpower the risotto. By all means, if you LOVE Gruyere, swap the Parmesan for it.
  • Garlic – Fresh only!
  • Butter

CARMELIZED ONIONS

  • Onions – You need LARGE yellow, Spanish or Vidalia onions. I am talking full fist full. It will appear to be a lot of onions raw but once they cook down you will only be left with less than a cup of caramelized onions.
  • Butter
  • Beef Broth – Used at the end to rehydrate the onions.

TOOLS NEEDED

Wide Pan- The rice needs ample surface area to cook. A wide saute pan or even a braiser works for this dish. If you don’t have either a large skillet will also do.

up close bowl of french onion risotto topped with caramelized onions and thyme.

HOW TO MAKE FRENCH ONION RISOTTO

CARMELIZED ONIONS

Cook Down the Onions – Preheat a large skillet on the stove over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the butter. Add the onions, a heavy pinch of salt, and toss the onions to coat them in the melted butter. Now, cook the onions down. Without fussing with the onions or the pan, let them cook undisturbed. Only mix the pan every 7-8 minutes or if you notice some onions browning faster than others due to a hot spot (it happens). The less you fuss with them and the less you touch them, the quicker and more evenly they will cook. Cook until they are a medium golden brown but not burnt. Add 1/4 cup of beef broth and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

I will admit this is a lengthy recipe because of the onions. Here’s a hack: cook the onions a day or two before making the risotto. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge. When ready to use, just pop them into the risotto during the designated step; no need to reheat

RISOTTO

Sauté the Base –Before you begin, place the beef broth in a saucepan over low heat. A warm broth helps maintain a consistent temperature throughout the risotto cooking process, resulting in a better final texture. Add 3 tbsp of butter to a wide pot or pan over low heat. Introduce the garlic and fresh thyme leaves, cooking for 2-3 minutes until they are soft and fragrant, but not brown. If the garlic begins to brown, the heat is too high.

Toast the Risotto – Next, add the unwashed arborio ( or Carnaroli) rice to the pan and toast for 3 minutes, until the grains start to become translucent.

Add the Wine + Onions – Deglaze the pan with the white wine and cook until it has almost completely reduced or been absorbed. This should take about 3 minutes. Typically, you would reduce wine further, but the rice absorbs it quickly. Once the wine has reduced, add the onions and mix.

Add the Broth – Add the warm beef broth to the risotto, but not all at once! For every cup of risotto, you need approx. 4- 4 1/2 cups of broth. Have extra on hand! I found with different brands of Arborio rice I needed + or – a cup. My rule of thumb is to pour just enough broth to cover the risotto, when the broth starts to dip below the grains it is time to add more.

Mix, add, shake – Mix 2-3 times per broth add. If you end up mixing more, no big deal! Also give the pan a mix or a shake midway to ensure the rice isn’t sticking to the bottom. I typically mix once right after I add the broth and like 2-3 times a few minutes later. You will end up mixing more the further along the rice gets to make sure it doesn’t stick.

Add the Parm– In the last minute, right before all the broth has been absorbed turn off the heat. Throw in the Parmesan and combine. The rice will absorb the remaining broth, and the end result will be a loose but not runny risotto.

bowl of french onion risotto topped with caramelized onions and thyme.

STORING/REHEATING

Risotto is meant to be eaten immediately, from the pan to the plate. Leftovers of this French onion risotto can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. When ready to reheat, place it in a pan over low heat with a light pour of beef broth to rehydrate and loosen the risotto. Add more if needed. Leftover risotto is also great to use to make risotto balls or arancini.

If you are new here then you may not know this but this risotto is actually #11 on the site. Check out the other risotto flavors below!

Mushroom Parm Risotto // Kale & Pancetta Risotto
Lemon Parm Risotto // Cacio e Pepe Risotto
Spicy Vodka Risotto // Brown Butter & Sage Risotto
Creamy Tomato Risotto // Smoked Gouda Risotto
Lobster Risotto // Crab Risotto

February 1, 2024

French Onion Risotto

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This French onion risotto is velvety and creamy, with sweet caramelized onions and a deep beef flavor.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Date Night, French Onion, Risotto
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 3 people

Ingredients

Caramelized Onions

  • 2 large yellow onions diced small
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup beef broth

French Onion Risotto

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 6 garlic cloves minced finely
  • 6-7 sprigs thyme fresh, leaves removed from stem
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 4-5 cups beef broth
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese loosely packed, not weighed

Instructions

Caramelized Onions

  • Preheat a large skillet on the stove over medium-low heat. Once hot add the butter. Add the onions, a heavy pinch of salt and give the onions a toss coating all of them in the melted butter.
  • Let the onions cook undisturbed except to mix them every 6-7 minutes.
  • Cook the onions until they are golden (but not burnt) approx. 40 minutes.
  • Add the beef broth and reduce for 2-3 minutes. Either pack up the onions to place in the fridge to make the risotto another day or place on the side.

French Onion Risotto

  • Place the beef broth on the stove on low heat to keep warm.
  • In a wide pot on medium-low heat melt the butter. Once melted add the garlic and thyme leaves, and approx. 1/2 tsp of salt. Cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant and soft. The garlic should not be brown, at any point it starts to brown lower the heat.
  • Add arborio rice and mix to combine. Toast rice for 3-4 minutes until it starts to become translucent.
  • Pour in the wine and stir. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the wine is almost non existent.
  • Add the onions and mix to combine.
  • Add the first round of broth. Depending on the pan add broth until it just covers the risotto. (could be 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups). Give it a quick mix, a shake of the pan to ensure all grains are covered and cook until rice absorbs the majority of the broth. Mix 2-3 times each round of broth. Don't worry if you mix more. It terms of seasoning after the first round taste it (avoiding the rice), if it needs salt start with a heavy pinch (1/4 tsp) and go from there.
  • Add more broth and repeat above steps. This recipe calls between 4-5 cups of broth. If you notice that it is perfectly cooked at 4, don't add more. This part of the recipe really takes intuition and feeling, if the rice is still hard or hard for your liking then add more little by little.
  • Once all broth has been added, but not completely absorbed (15-18 minutes of cooking) give it a taste. The rice should be loose, yet al dente. If the rice has too much of a bite add more broth, about 1/4 cup at a time. Once al dente add the Parmesan cheese. Mix to incorporate. Serve immediately.

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