Besides being delicious, I love risotto because it's pretty inexpensive and it makes a LOT of food! That is spectacular news for a student on a budget such as myself. One cup of dry rice makes about 3 cups of cooked risotto, so there is always plenty left over. I like to keep the flavors in the actual risotto pretty simple just for that reason. That way when I have my leftover risotto over the next few days, I can make a fresh side dish to go with it and I don't have to be eating the exact same thing three days in a row.
First I melt about a table spoon of butter in a pot, an add in some finely chopped onion and one clove of garlic. Sauté on medium heat and when the onions start to look translucent add in one cup of risotto. I typically use Arborio rice to make risotto, but Carnaroli and Vialone rice are popular as well. Really any short grained rice will do. Toast the rice for about 5 minutes - you will know it's ready when it's slightly translucent. At this point add in one cup of dry white wine. Stir the risotto constantly until all of the liquid is absorbed. Once it is, add in a cup of hot water. For extra flavor you can add hot chicken or vegetable stock, but if you don't have any on hand (like moi) then hot water is just fine. Once that liquid is absorbed, add another cup of hot water and another and another until the ricsotto is done.
It may sound difficult to gage when the risotto is finished, but it's really not. After 3 cups of hot water have been absorbed, I taste the risotto to see how much more it has to cook. Risottoe, like pasta should be a bit al dente, but if it's still very hard then it needs more water. Easy as that! Once the risotto is finished I add pepper and lots and lots of grated Parmesan cheese. The cheese has a lot of salt in it, so make sure you taste your risotto before you add any additional salt. I also add some dried, crushed basil to mine for a little extra flavor.
Now! Risotto does need to be stirred almost constantly, but almost is the key word. You can easily make something to go with your risotto while it's cooking. I cut up some chicken and sautéd it in a pan with quartered artichoke hearts, a little olive oil, white wine, salt, pepper, and fresh squeezed lemon juice. I'll tell you what - my kitchen smelled awesome, my roommates were drooling, and this dinner totally hit the spot.