Risotto was one of the first dishes I learned how to make, and for a long time it was sort of my signature. There are a million different ways to make it, and this particular recipe was adapted from Jamie Oliver. It's one of my favorites, and it's easy to make in big batches for a large crowd.
Arborio rice (about one handful per person)
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
Fresh thyme (leaves picked off the stems)
1 whole bulb garlic
Two cloves garlic chopped
1 small onion, diced
Chop the top off the garlic bulb and wrap the bulb in foil, leaving an opening at the top. Place in the oven at 400 degrees and roast for 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool, and then squeeze the garlic out of the paper and set aside.
While the garlic is roasting, make coarse breadcrumbs by tearing stale bread (or use fresh and toast it slightly) into pieces. In a frying pan, combine with the almonds, a pinch of thyme, and enough olive oil to saturate the bread. Over medium heat, toast until golden brown and crispy. Be careful because the almonds will burn easily!
Start the risotto by browning the onion and chopped garlic in a little olive oil, in a large pan. Add the rice and toss to coat in the oil. Add about a cup of broth and bring to a boil. After you have added the first cup of liquid, add a couple pinches of thyme, and the roasted garlic. When almost all of the liquid has been absorbed, add more. Keep adding broth until it runs out, and then use water. You want to keep the rice bubbling, but not sticking to the bottom of the pan, so you will need to keep stirring constantly for about 45 minutes. Season as necessary, and remove from the heat when the rice is very soft. Add a tablespoon of butter (or two for a large amount) and let melt into the rice.
Serve with the breadcrumbs on top and a dollop of mascarpone cream.