A good risotto takes a bit of time to make, but it’s worth the effort, and restaurant-quality risotto is not that difficult or complicated to make. Here’s how:

It’s a good idea to have all the ingredients measured and ready to use before you begin.

1 cup of arborio rice
1/2 stick butter
4 cups of chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon each of salt, pepper, cayenne and lemon zest (all in one bowl)
1 shallot, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1/2 cup chardonnay
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
chives, chopped
Warm the stock in a saucepan. In another saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the shallot and stir with a wooden spoon until softened. Add the garlic and continue stirring for a few seconds. Next, add the rice, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.

This next part is critical, and it happens quite fast. The rice will at first be dry because it will soak up all the butter. But after two or three minutes of stirring, the rice will start to release the butter. When the butter foams up, pour in the wine (it should steam up). Immediately dump the salt, pepper, cayenne and lemon zest into the mix.

The wine will boil off very quickly. Add a couple of ladles of warm stock and stir. Start the timer, set to 22 minutes. Continue stirring for the next 22 minutes. You don’t want the stock boiling, just very warm.

The rice is done when the stock has been completely incorporated and the rice is thick and creamy. It should be “al dente”–soft, but not mushy. When it’s done, turn off the heat, stir in 1/2 cup of Parmesan and cover.

When it’s time to serve, scoop helpings of the risotto on a plate, top with the rest of the Parmesan and sprinkle on the chives.

One final thought: let it cool for a few minutes after you plate. The flavor intensifies as it rests.