Serves: 8 | Cook Time: 45 min
- Combine 1 Tbsp. salt and 10 cups water in a medium stockpot. Bring to a very bare simmer over medium heat.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a 6-qt Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook onion and a pinch of salt, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent and starting to soften, 6-8 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water and cook, stirring often, until water evaporates and onion is sizzling in oil and completely tender, about 5 minutes. (Adding the water allows the onion to cook gently and thoroughly without taking on any color.) Taste onion; if it’s still firm at all, add another splash of water and continue cooking until meltingly soft.
- Add rice and stir well to coat with oil. Cook, stirring constantly, until grains of rice are translucent around the edges and makes a glassy clattering sound when they hit the sides and bottom of the pot, about 5 minutes. Coating the grains with oil before adding any liquid helps the rice cook evenly so that the outside does not become mushy before the center is tender. Add wine and another pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until wine is completely evaporated, about 2 minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium, then add hot salted water to rice in 3/4-cup increments, stirring constantly and allowing liquid to absorb fully before adding more, until rice is al dente and surrounded by fluid, not-too-thick creamy suspension, 25-30 minutes. It should take 2-3 minutes for each addition to be absorbed; if things are moving faster than this, reduce heat to medium-low. Gradual absorption and constant agitation are key to encouraging the starches to release from the risotto, creating its trademark cream consistency. You may not need all the hot water, but err on the side of soup rather than sludge. The finished texture should be more of a liquid than a solid. Start checking the rice after about 15 minutes; the grains should be tender but not mushy, with a slightly firm center that doesn’t leave a chalky or gritty residue between your teeth after tasting. Do not overcook!
- Remove pot from heat, add butter and mascarpone, and stir until melted. Gradually add 1 1/4 cups Parmesan, stirring until chees is melted and the liquid surrounding the risotto is creamy but very fluid. Stir in more hot, salted water if needed to achieve the right consistency. Taste and season with salt.
- Divide risotto among warm bowls. Top each with a grind of pepper. Serve with remaining 1/2 cup parmesan alongside for passing.
Possible Toppings: Roasted Butternut Squash, Buttered Sugar Snap Peas, Blistered Cherry Tomatoes, Browned Mushrooms with Thyme, or Lemon and Chives.