Caramelized Onion and Thyme Risotto: Rich, creamy risotto gets a big boost with deeply flavored caramelized onions, fresh thyme, and Parmesan cheese. It’s perfect as a meal on its own or served on the side of a roast chicken. Weekend meals don’t get better than that!
I can’t remember the last time it was that I made risotto but I’ve been craving it something fierce since early fall.
It’s not that risotto is hard to make and I certainly don’t mind pulling up a counter stool to the stove to stir the pot for 30 minutes.
So why I don’t make it more often is beyond me because I looove it so. Creamy rice that is just tender to the tooth – it’s a perfect meal!
But when you add caramelized onions, fresh thyme, and a big handful of Parmesan cheese? Holy heck!!
Keys to Making Really Creamy Risotto
- The main key to making a really great, creamy risotto is to take your time with it. I’ve made recipes in the past where you cook the risotto in the oven and I will tell you that they don’t turn out nearly as good as cooking it on the stove top.
- You’re going to need to use arborio rice for risotto. Don’t let any recipe tell you otherwise. This type of rice is a thicker grain of rice, which allows for more starch to be released into your dish. And the more starch you can pull from the rice, the creamier your risotto will be.
- Great risotto starts with a delicious base flavor. For this risotto, this flavor comes from the caramelized onions which you cook in the same pot that you will make the risotto in. After you pull the onions from the pan, the brown flavor bits from the bottom of the pan are deglazed (scraped up with chicken broth) and transferred to the broth you’ll cook the risotto with. Then you’ll add butter to the pan and start cooking the risotto. Delicious!!
- You must add the liquid gradually to the pan. This is where taking your time is important! You’re going to only add a little bit of hot chicken broth at a time to the pan and simmer it down until the rice just about absorbs all of the broth. You’ll repeat this step until there’s no broth remaining.
- Over time, the rice will slowly cook and start to release its starch, making the rice all creamy and perfect! You’ll know when the rice is fully cooked when there is just a little bit of “chew” left to it, just like when pasta is cooked to al dente. It shouldn’t be hard or mushy.
I served this caramelized onion and thyme risotto as a side dish with some roast chicken and dijon-braised Brussels sprouts one Sunday night a few weeks ago but it would be just as amazing served as a meatless main dish, either by itself or perhaps with some roasted shrimp.
- 1 recipe caramelized onions, cooked in a 3-quart Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 ½ cups arborio rice
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano, aged Gouda, fontina, or Gruyere cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
- 3 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Warm the chicken broth in a small saucepan over medium heat until just steaming; lower the heat to keep the broth warm, but don't allow it to boil.
- Once the onions have cooked, transfer them to a bowl and cover it to keep them warm. Pour ½ cup of the broth into the hot Dutch oven and scrape up the bits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer the liquid and the brown bits back to the small saucepan with the rest of the broth.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the Dutch oven over medium heat. Toss the rice around in the butter, and gently stir it, allowing it to toast and turn translucent around the edges, about one minute.
- Pour in the wine and allow it to absorb into the rice. Ladle in enough broth to just cover the rice, about ½ cup, and simmer, stirring gently, until the rice has absorbed the liquid. This should take a couple of minutes and you'll know when to add more liquid when you pull a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan and rice separates cleanly, without any broth pooling in the bottom of the pot. Add in another ladle of broth and repeat the process until all of the broth has been added and the rice is creamy. This should take about 25 to 30 minutes. Stir in the remaining butter, cheese, thyme, and most of the onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top the risotto with the remaining onions and serve hot.
adapted from Fine Cooking
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