Here are my (and Martha's :) step by step instructions on how to make a fool-proof basic risotto:
Note: the key to a creamy, velvety risotto is to stir it constantly, so be prepared to stay with it during the full cook time which is around 30 mins.
1. In a medium saucepan, bring broth to a simmer; reduce heat and keep warm.
2. In a 10-inch heavy-bottomed skillet or pot, heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high. Add shallot, season with salt and pepper, and cook until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes.
3. Add rice and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until rice is translucent at edges and all of the rice is well coated with the melted butter, 1 minute.
4. Add wine and stir until evaporated, about 2 minutes.
5. With a ladle, add about 1 cup broth to skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed, 4 minutes. (Tip: you'll know when it's time to add more broth, when you scraped the bottom of the pan with your wooden spoon and you can see the bottom of the pan for a while ie. the liquid doesn't cover it right up).
6. Repeat, gradually adding broth by the cupful and stirring constantly, until rice is tender but still a little al dente and sauce is creamy (you may not need all of broth), 20 to 25 minutes.
7. Remove skillet from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons butter and Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.