Honoring Marcella Hazan with Her Parmesan Risotto

We note the passing of Marcella Hazan, an Italian cookbook legend, who the food community lost on September 30th, 2013. She was 89 years old. PBS was honored to have her make a rare television appearance on an episode of The Mind Of A Chef, which will air in late Fall 2013.

Fresh Tastes blogger Adrianna Adarme shares a personal tribute to Marcella Hazan’s legacy.

Parmesan Risotto recipe

When I was sixteen, I was an ambitious hostess. I liked to throw parties. I liked to cook dishes I had no idea how to cook. And I usually liked to try and do a lot of them all at the same time, which wasn’t always the best move. One Christmas I decided to make a Feast of Seven Fishes. I grabbed my first Marcella Hazan book, The Essentials of Italian Cooking, that was gifted to me from my in-the-know and avid book-collector of an uncle.

Parmesan Risotto recipe

It was an old copy. Probably one he picked up at a yard sale; the pages were stained showing signs of lots of use. As I perused the recipes, I found out the reason why: each and every recipe seemed doable, delicious and simplistic in the best way possible.

Parmesan Risotto recipe

I made five dishes (of our seven) from her book. And surprisingly, only one was a failure: this Parmesan risotto. It wasn’t due to any faulty directions or ratios. No way. It was all user error. What I learned on that day is that risotto requires patience and a large amount of attention — no multi-tasking allowed!

Parmesan Risotto recipe

This is my first time attempting this dish since that day when I cried in my gummy, messy risotto. I wasn’t surprised to find that it turned out perfectly. I followed Marcella’s words and was met with the perfect amount of creaminess. This dish is so simple, so perfect and so delicious.

Marcella Hazan’s Parmesan Risotto

Parmesan Risotto recipe

This Parmesan risotto recipe is an adaptation from Marcella Hazan's cookbook, The Essentials of Italian Cooking. Marcella was an Italian cookbook author who passed away in late September 2013.

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Ingredients

  • 4 cups homemade meat broth or veggie broth
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons onion or shallot, chopped finely
  • 2 cups carnaroli or arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Salt

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a very slow, steady simmer on a burner near where you'll be cooking the risotto.
  2. Put 1 tablespoon of butter, the olive oil, and the chopped onion in a broad, sturdy pot, and turn on the heat to medium high. Cook and stir the onion until it becomes translucent, then add the rice. Stir quickly and thoroughly until the grains are coated well.
  3. Add ½ cup of simmering broth and cook the rice, stirring constantly with a long wooden spoon, wiping the sides and bottom of the pot clean as you stir, until all the liquid is gone. You must never stop stirring and you must be sure to wipe the bottom of the pot completely clean frequently, or the rice will stick to it.
  4. When there is no more liquid in the pot, add another ½ cup, continuing always to stir in the manner described above. Maintain heat at a lively pace.
  5. Begin to taste the rice after 20 minutes of cooking. It is done when it is tender, but firm to the bite. As it approaches that stage, gradually reduce the amount of liquid you add, so that when it is fully cooked, it is slightly moist, but not runny.
  6. When the rice is about 1 or 2 minutes away from being fully cooked, add all the grated Parmesan and the remaining butter. Stir constantly to melt the cheese and wrap it around the grains. Off heat, taste and correct for salt, stirring after adding salt. Serve promptly.

Yield: 4 servings


Adrianna Adarme - PBS Food Fresh Tastes BloggerAdrianna Adarme is a food blogger and author living in Los Angeles, California. She writes the blog A Cozy Kitchen, where she shares comforting, everyday recipes from her kitchen. She recently authored her first cookbook, PANCAKES: 72 Sweet and Savory Recipes for the Perfect Stack. She’s a lover of breakfast, pie (and sometimes even pie for breakfast), corgis and cute things. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.