Alrighty then. I took another stab at risotto in the rice cooker and ended up with much better results.
First, I'll post the rough recipe and directions:
Risotto with Caramelized Onions and Fontina Cheese
Source: Me, with inspiration from The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook
2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
2 tablespoon butter, divided
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup + 2 tablespoons Arborio rice
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup sherry
1 can fat-free chicken stock + a bit more liquid to add at the end
1/2 cup caramelized onions, chopped
1/2 cup Fontina cheese, grated
1. Set the rice cooker to "Quick Cook" and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Add crushed garlic and saute about 1-2 minutes.
2. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently. (At this point I was all set to add my wine and cook until it was absorbed. However, the rice cooker started counting down and I was afraid it would not sustain enough temperature for long enough to get the liquid absorbed, so I reset it. When I reset it, the rice cooker would not go back to "Quick Cook". It apparently will not take your cooking selection if the cooker is too hot. I waited for it to cool down and then set it back to "Quick Cook".) Add sherry and stir until liquid is absorbed. Add chicken stock, stir and close rice cooker.
3. Reset cooker to "Regular" setting. (Again, I had a problem with the cooker not resetting, presumably due to being too hot. I had to let it sit a bit before I could get it to reset to "Regular". This little problem is annoying and makes the whole process take longer. I need to look into setting the cooker to whatever setting I will ultimately be using and seeing if it gets hot enough to get me through the saute phase.) Cook for about 20-30 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. (I checked at the recommended 20 minutes, but it had not really reached a rolling boil. At about 25-28 minutes, it hit a rolling boil and was just about done.) Reset cooker to "Keep Warm".
4. Stir rice thoroughly. Add the remaining olive oil and butter, if desired. Stir in caramelized onions and Fontina cheese. Add more liquid if necessary to get the desired consistency.
The difference this time was that I set the rice cooker to the "Regular Cycle" and monitored the time, rather than letting the cooker determine when the rice was done. After the rice reached an acceptable texture, I reset the rice cooker and set it to "Keep Warm". I also find that by adding a bit of stock or other liquid at the end, when the risotto is finished cooking, I can get a better consistency (re: less gloppy) - if I add the liquid only when it's simmering, it gets absorbed.
Well, I think I can safely say that risotto works quite well in the rice cooker. It may not be truly authentic, but it was much easier than standing over the stove for 20 minutes and it didn't overheat the kitchen. I'll definitely be more likely to make risotto now that I've found an easier way. And my whole family is happy about that!