This is the secret formula for a risotto that cooks in the oven without the need for constant stirring. Once you have the correct ratio of liquid to rice, and cook it in the oven at a certain temperature for a certain time, it always works.
I love risotto, but I am not so keen on the idea of standing at the stove for 20 minutes or more, stirring, ladling, etc. Allowing it to cook itself in the oven instead is a huge bonus in my books! I have been using this oven baked risotto formula for over 10 years, tweaking it here and there over time, and it has become a family favourite.
Using an oven timer is helpful for this recipe because the timing is important. Of course, ovens and ingredients do vary, so you may find you need to cook it a little longer (or a little less) until it reaches your ideal risotto consistency. It is worth using arborio rice, as it is perfectly suited to risotto with its slightly shorter grains which do a great job absorbing the liquid and the flavours around them.
Another great thing about this recipe is that it is an ideal way to use up leftovers from dinner the night before. We often do this after cooking a roast or slow cooker chicken dinner with vegetables. Save a little of the cooked chicken and the roasted vegetables to make a perfect addition to risotto the next day. If you are really keen, you can make stock using the bones from the roast chicken, which you can then use for the risotto. If you don’t have any “here’s one I prepared earlier” roast dinner leftovers, used steamed or microwaved vegetables such as pumpkin, carrot and zucchini, and cook about half a cup of chicken (cut into small pieces) in the pan before adding the shallot and rice.
If you keep the formula of liquid to rice the same, you can vary the ingredients in this risotto recipe with whatever you like. This colourful and delicious variation with beetroot, feta and walnuts is a good example.
Use the same ingredients and method as the standard recipe above, except:
- replace the 2 cups of vegetables and chicken with 200g of cooked beetroot (I roasted them in foil and then cut the skin off), chopped into small pieces.
- replace the parmesan with 2 tablespoons of feta. This time I used marinated feta but plain is also good.
- just before serving, sprinkle the cooked risotto with chopped parsley and walnut or other nut pieces.
I have made oven baked risotto a few times for group dinners, simply by multiplying the ingredients by two or three times and cooking the risotto in large baking dishes. The big difference is that if you make a larger amount it will take longer to cook, so you may need to test the rice as it cooks and adjust the cooking times to allow for the larger quantities.