Sunday, March 22, 2009


Right! That's enough American food! Time to bring things back to the 'old continent'!

This is not the only risotto on The Fat Expat – HMHB’s prawn number is linked here – but this is how I likes it and should be a pretty foolproof approach to a dish that many people find a little intimidating. Like most rice cookery, it's a great deal less fuss than they'd have you believe. Whoever 'they' are - the same people that tell you not to eat potatoes with your roast or that wine is bad for you or whatever other mad fad 'they' have decided to burden us with.

This one is actually a ‘rizi bizi’, but you can play about with ingredients based around the basic principle, which remains the idea of frying the rice with onion and garlic, adding wine to cook and soak into the fat grains of Arborio rice and then cooking the rice in a good, rich stock that’s kept hot throughout the cooking process.

You need a fat-grained Italian rice like Arborio. Don't blame me if you do something daft like trying this with basmati...

  • 215g Arborio rice
  • 900ml good chicken stock
  • 150ml white wine
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 70g smoked lardons/pancetta cubes
  • 150g peas
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp truffle oil
  • 50g fresh parmesan, grated

Put the stock in a pan and heat until it’s just about to start bubbling. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a covered frying pan over a medium heat, adding the onion and cooking for a few minutes to soften. Add in the lardons (or pancetta or other small cubes of smoky stuff you have to hand, garlic and rice and stir fry for another couple of minutes, then add the wine. Keep stirring the mixture until the wine soaks into the rice, another couple of minutes. Now ladle some of the stock into the rice mixture and give it a stir. Repeat this every time the rice mixture looks like drying out, it’ll take something like 20-25 minutes for the rice to be cooked – you’re aiming for ‘al dente’, so that there’s still some bite in the grains, so do check it frequently towards the end of the cooking time. About 15 minutes in, add the peas and the truffle oil. When it’s done, add in the parmesan and serve immediately.

Can you cook a risotto and reheat it when you want to serve it? Everyone says no, but I've tried turning off the heat when the frozen peas go in, adding the rest of the stock then reheating it later on when I'm almost ready to serve it and I've got away with it. Purists the world over are screaming blue murder, I know. But sometimes you do just want to 'get away with it', no?

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