Rich and creamy, smooth and oozy, a well-made risotto is a hug on a plate. And the good news is that, with a little time, patience, and a lot of stirring, it is super-simple to make. Risotto isn’t the kind of dish that you can just leave to simmer for hours on the cooktop, it needs constant supervision to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning or turning thick and stodgy, but it isn’t difficult to make and is well worth the extra effort.
A basic risotto to kick you off. Once you’ve mastered this one you can add pretty much anything to it.
- 1.1l hot chicken stock (or veg stock if you’re vegetarian)
- 2 knobs butter
- 2tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 stick celery, finely chopped
- 400g risotto rice (arborio or carnaroli)
- 2 wineglasses dry white wine
- 100g parmesan cheese, grated
- Turn the gas on your cooktop to low and heat the olive oil and 1 knob of butter in a large pan for a minute, then add the onion, garlic and celery and gently fry for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened without colouring.
- Add the rice and turn up the heat, stirring all the time, until it becomes translucent (this will take about 1 minute). Pour in the wine and keep stirring.
- Once the rice has absorbed the wine, add a ladle of stock and a pinch of salt, turning down the heat to a simmer. Once that ladle of stock has been absorbed, add another, whilst constantly stirring. Repeat the process until the rice is soft and plump but still has a bite to it - this will probably take around 15 minutes.
- Take the pan off the heat and stir in the remaining butter and parmesan. Stir well, cover with a lid and leave for a couple of minutes to allow the butter and cheese to melt into the risotto, giving it that beautifully creamy consistency.
Add a combination of cheeses at the end to up the cheesiness and creaminess - Italian cheese such as taleggio and gorgonzola will add a punch to your risotto.
A classic seafood risotto, with a mix of mussels, prawns, scallops and squid and the heady flavours of fennel and saffron, is beautiful on a hot day with a glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc.
Mushrooms pair wonderfully with risotto - choose rich, earthy varieties such as chestnut, porcini and wild.