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How to make risotto in less time than it takes to walk the dog

Addie Broyles

Risotto isn’t a dish you think to make at the last minute, unless you have a multicooker.

Before electric pressure cookers (in the form of Instant Pots) started taking over American kitchens, you had to stand by a stove for 30 or 40 minutes to make risotto, slowly stirring liquid into the rice.

Last night, thanks to this new multicooker I’ve been using for the last few weeks, I made risotto while I walked my dog. It really was that fast.

To recap, I bought an Instant Pot, the brand whose name is more familiar to us than the term “multicooker,” and over the past few weeks, I’ve realized that the feature that makes these multicookers so useful is the pressure cooker.

Stove-top and electric pressure cookers — and pressure cooker risotto (and cheesecakes, for that matter) — have been around forever, but none has been as useful as the ones that also allow you to saute, steam and slow cook in the same appliance. Most models allow you to program it to start at a certain time, and some you can turn off or adjust from your phone.

I haven’t used the yogurt function yet, but I can tell you that the multicooker has been handy to make hard-cooked eggs, corn on the cob, broccoli, curried lentils and rice, chicken curry, quinoa, cauliflower mac and cheese, pork ribs, refried beans, chorizo potato salad, rotisserie chicken (and tortilla soup), corn chowder and, finally, risotto.

This creamy Italian rice dish might already be the dish that sold you on buying a multicooker — it’s certainly the most mentioned dish when I’ve talked with readers online about what they love cooking in their Instant Pots. (It seems like cooks who have a different brand of multicooker still call it an Instant Pot, but maybe parlance will evolve as our cooking habits do.)

Risotto recipes are in every single multicooker cookbook in my house, and they are similar in quantity and method, calling for 1 1/2 cups arborio rice and 3 or 4 cups stock. I found that packages of arborio rice often contain 2 cups of rice, so I adjusted the recipe to fit that quantity. I also preferred to add more liquid at the end to make a slightly creamier risotto, but the consistency of your risotto will depend greatly on the exact heating specifications of your multicooker and how much liquid evaporates during the heating and steam release process.

RELATED: Fresh corn adds a summer spin to this (Instant Pot-friendly) clam chowder

Instant Pot Basics: How to make refried beans and New York-style cheesecake

If you want to add spinach and feta cheese, stir them into the risotto as soon as it has finished cooking and the steam has been released. The spinach will cook in the residual heat. You can freeze leftover risotto and, because the texture won’t be the same as when it was freshly made, you can use it to make a cheesy mashed potato-style side dish or to add as a thickener to a creamy potato soup.

Parmesan Risotto

This risotto cooks for 6 minutes under pressure, but it takes about 12 to 15 minutes for the multicooker to heat up. All in all, you can make this risotto in less time than it takes to walk the dog, which I found out the other night. When the pressure cooker timer is up, the primary heat turns off, but there is still a “warming” function that it defaults to as the steam starts to release naturally. Ideally, you’ll be nearby to manually release — or quick release — the pressure, which will give the risotto an ideal texture and get dinner on the table even faster. With this risotto, I served steamed broccoli and a bacon-wrapped steak I picked up at the store and cooked in a cast iron skillet.

— Addie Broyles

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons white wine (optional)

2 cups arborio rice

4 cups chicken stock

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Pinch dried thyme (optional)

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons butter

Press the saute button on the multicooker. Turn heat to medium, if you can adjust it. Heat the olive oil and then add the diced onion. Stir and cook until the onions start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and rice and cook, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Add the wine, if using, to deglaze the bottom of the pot. (If not using wine, use a little of the chicken stock at this step.) Add the rest of the liquid, salt, pepper and thyme, if using.

Turn off the saute function. Place the lid on the multicooker and use the manual program to cook under pressure for 6 minutes. Quick release the pressure and then remove the lid of the multicooker. Remove the pot from the cooker so you can hold onto the edge of it while you stir in the Parmesan cheese and butter. (Removing the pot from the cooker will also keep the rice from continuing to cook as it thickens.)

The rice will thicken as it cools, but you can add a little more stock or Parmesan cheese to thin or thicken the dish before serving.

— Addie Broyles