Recipe: Brown Rice Risotto

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Brown Rice Risotto from 100 Days of Real FoodMy great-grandparents were born in Italy so for as long as I can remember risotto has been a staple dish in our family. When my dad is the one cooking, which is the norm in my family, we have risotto at almost every gathering including holiday dinners. I even remember my dad making the Italian flag with his risotto one year by mixing tomato paste with a third of the batch and parsley with another third. I don’t remember who was at this particular dinner, how old I was, or what holiday we were even celebrating, but oh how I remember the Italian flag risotto. :) Clearly I was destined to somehow have food be a big part of my life.

But enough nostalgia for now… What I am really here to say is that I was slightly devastated when I first thought whole-grain risotto was impossible. You see, when we made the switch to “real food” I looked everywhere for brown Arborio rice to no avail. I even went almost a year without eating risotto (yikes!) until one day I saw a post from Deliciously Organic explaining that you can actually make risotto with just regular brown rice…it doesn’t have to be Arborio or anything special! You know how something can suddenly seem so simple when the information is presented to you like that. Plus this is such a great recipe to have in your dinner rotation because (similar to stir-fry) you can mix in almost anything you have on hand from veggies to seafood to meat in order to make it into a complete meal. And if you have some homemade chicken stock available for this recipe, too…then yum!!

5.0 from 1 reviews

Brown Rice Risotto
Serves: 5-6
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ⅓ cup onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups brown rice, quick cooking recommended
  • ⅔ cup white wine
  • 6 cups warm (or room temperature) chicken stock/broth, homemade recommended
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Suggested additions: roasted asparagus and proscuitto, shallots and mushrooms, spinach (cooked or raw), lima beans and bacon, cooked butternut squash, shellfish, rotisserie chicken, artichoke hearts, sautéed zucchini and yellow squash
  1. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté for several minutes until soft (not brown).
  2. Add the minced garlic and brown rice. Stir for a couple minutes to coat rice with oil.
  3. Pour in the wine and let absorb completely, which will only take about a minute.
  4. Add chicken stock to the pan one ladleful at a time and stir frequently. When the stock is almost completely absorbed add the next ladleful and keep repeating until the rice is al dente (almost done). Keep a close eye on the rice and don’t forget to stir frequently during this process. It can take up to 20 or 30 minutes before the rice is done. If the rice is not the “quick cooking” variety it could take twice as long.
  5. When the rice is almost done add the last ladleful of stock (so you can serve it a little soupy), the parmesan cheese, salt & pepper to taste, and any other additions you’d like to include.
    Serve warm and enjoy!

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55 comments to Recipe: Brown Rice Risotto

  • Michelle

    This is so delish!! I added bacon and portabella mushrooms!! Yum!

  • Kate

    My husband and I found brown rice risotto at the Healthy Home Market on South Boulevard in Charlotte. It made great risotto, but took about an hour and a half. Totally worth it!

  • Kate

    Brown Arborio rice, not brown risotto.

  • Melissa

    Is instant brown rice the same as quick cooking brown rice?

  • Elizabeth

    I made this for my family last night with bacon and lima beans. My 5 year old not only helped me cook it (and informed me I need to be on the food network show chopped) but she ate 2, count them 2 servings.

    As a tip, if you are using bacon: chop the bacon into small pieces and saute first, remove the bacon bits from the pan, then you can use the rendered fat to saute the onions in before adding the garlic and rice (make sure you turn the heat down to low and allow the rendered fat to cool slightly before you add the onions or you will just end up burning them – also important to salt and pepper your onions to help render their flavor while cooking). When you add the rice you need to cook it for a solid 2 minutes, at least, to toast up the rice and thus activate the starches. Add the wine to deglaze the pan and “shock” the rice so it will begin producing the creaminess that Risotto is famous for. While you are adding your chicken stock to the risotto, a ladle-full (and yes you MUST do it spoonful by spoonful – you cannot dump in all the liquid and end up with good risotto) at a time steam your lima beans so they are warm and ready to plop in at the end.

    When you’ve used up almost all of your stock, check the tenderness of your rice. It should have a creamy mouth-feel and a slight “al dente” pasta-like bite to it. You may need more or less stock, but cook it to your preferred texture then add back in your limabeans and bacon bits. A traditional Italian trick for the finishing touch on Risotto – after letting almost all the stock absorb and instead of adding more to “make soupy” add 1 – 2 Tablespoons of butter and toss in your parmesean cheese, this binds the starches and makes for a thick and creamy rich “sauce”.

  • Frank Rizo

    Delicious. I always have a hard time with the salt, either too much or not enough.This time it was not enough, but not to worry, I added some more st the table? Even sans the cheese it’s a great way to cook brown rice. Love it.

  • Tricia

    I make this all the time with barley and farro!

  • Ramona

    I really want to try out the recipe but I am new to making risottos or cooking with wine, so what white wine do I use and do I need to use wine? Thank you!

  • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

    Hi there. I use this guide all the time for cooking with various wines: ~Amy

  • [...]  Salmon Rosti , Brown Rice Risotto and Roasted [...]

  • Krystal

    We are a NON alcohol house.Is there an alternative to the white wine?

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Krystal. You could leave it out and just add more stock thought wine really adds to the richness of the flavor. I have seen where others have used apple cider with a bit of white wine vinegar but I’ve not tested it. And, that might be off limits, too? Adding a little butter and some extra parmesan would add richness, as well. Best of luck. ~Amy

  • [...] making sauce or rice. This stock is great in soups like chicken noodle soup and also in rice like risotto. [...]

  • A

    Lisa thanks for the tip, but i think I improved the recipe: try throwing in some sliced, quick fried Portobello mushrooms and some cream or mascarpone and it will be much nicer.

  • Kathy

    I haven’t tried this yet, but I’d love to try this recipe using short grain sweet brown rice. This variety of rice is both a whole food and very starchy. With that in mind I think it would be the best replacement for arborio. I hope you check it out !

  • Julie

    I must be the outsider on this one! I have made risotto successfully many times with arborio, but was excited to try brown rice (and I was out of arborio!). But I’m at 2 hrs and 25 minutes + twice the suggested liquid and my rice is stuck at 90% cooked! It is creamy, albeit not done. We already ate the rest of dinner, I’m not giving up on this, it will cook! Note – it isn’t fast cook rice, so I was expecting an hour +.

  • Justin Jace

    I was web searching for a brown rice risottos recipe and lucky for me I stumbled upon your blog. I love it! Great recipes for a new follower and his family!

  • Jennifer Emerson

    I am 1.5+ hours in and I cannot get the rice done! I’m obviously not using the quick cooking kind ;-) I’m going to add some chicken and veggies!

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