There is something wonderfully satisfying and calming about making risotto – it needs time to do it properly but isn’t complicated. And then there’s the sheer pleasure of eating it – it definitely fits into the ‘comfort food’ category.
Risotto Bianco -the basis for all my risottos
What you need…
1.1 litres stock (chicken, fish or veg, as appropriate)
2 tablesp. olive oil
a knob of butter
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
4 sticks of celery, trimmed and finely chopped
400g risotto rice
300ml dry white wine
Sea salt & black pepper, to taste
What to do…
Heat the stock. Put the olive oil and butter into a separate pan and add the onion, garlic and celery. Cook on a low heat for 15 minutes without colouring. This is called a ‘soffrito’. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.
The rice will now begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute, it will look slightly translucent. Add the wine and keep stirring – it will smell fabulous!
Once the wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat and simmer so that the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and massaging the creamy starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take about 15 minutes. Taste the rice to check that it is cooked. If not, carry on adding stock (or boiling water if you’ve run out) until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Check seasoning.
Remove from the heat. For a basic risotto, add 70g butter and 115g freshly grated Parmesan. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow to stand for 2-5 minutes. This is one of the most important elements of making the perfect risotto, as this is when it comes amazingly oozy, like it should be. Serve and enjoy that beautiful creamy texture.
Use fish stock. When you have just two final ladlefuls of stock to go, add in four scallops, sliced horizontally, and 2 fillets of salmon, skinned and chopped into cm-sized chunks plus, a handful of clams and/or mussels if you fancy.
Once you have removed the risotto from the heat, squeeze in half a lemon’s juice and 250g raw prawns, stir well to make sure all the prawns are totally covered by the hot rice. As per Risotto Bianco, place a lid on the pan for 2 – 5 mins before serving. Bellissimo!
Mint, Asparagus, Peas & Lemon Risotto (pictured)
Use vegetable stock. Trim and cook 400g asparagus in boiling, salted water until al dente. Chop 1 tablesp. mint.
When you have just two final ladlefuls of stock to go, add in the al dente asparagus, chopped mint and a couple of handfuls of frozen petit pois. Squeeze in juice from half a lemon and stir well.
As per Risotto Bianco, place a lid on the pan for 2 – 5 minutes before serving. Delish!
Wild Mushroom Risotto
Use vegetable stock. Fry 200g wild mushrooms (cleaned and torn up) in a splash of hot oil for a minute or two until they begin to colour. Season with salt and pepper. Add 4-5 cloves chopped garlic, a small bunch thyme leaves and 1 tablesp. butter and cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes.
Once you have removed the risotto from the heat, add the Parmesan and butter as per Risotto Bianco and stir in 1 small bunch finely chopped flat-leaf parsley. Add the mushroom mixture, squeeze in juice from half a lemon and stir well. As per Risotto Bianco, place a lid on the pan for 2 – 5 mins before serving. Divine!
Dried porcini work fabulously in this risotto. You just need to remember pop them in boiling water for 20 minutes before cooking with them.
Really, really easy as long as you have the time to let the rice become oozy and the flavours develop.