Risotto is perfect in winter with hearty stews (in Italy, they say "ragu"), in spring with seasonal vegetables, in summer with seafood, and in autumn on its own. There are endless variations by region, but this one is probably one of the most popular and most famous - and justifiably so. It's rich with butter and parmesan, and given its exotic flavour by saffron. Traditionally made with chicken stock, you can also use a good quality vegetable broth for a vegetarian version.
It's very important to use a risotto rice like carnaroli or arborio - other rices just don't have the same starchiness, and won't make a satisfactory dish.
1 cup carnaroli or arborio rice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion or 2 golden eschallots, finely diced
500mL good quality chicken or vegetable stock
a splash of dry white wine (optional)
a pinch or 2 of saffron
2 tbsp salted butter
100g finely shaved parmesan (we like reggiano)
Salt & pepper to taste
a few sprigs fresh parsley
Method:Heat the olive oil on medium-high in a frying pan or heavy skillet. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the risotto rice and stir for another minute or 2, then add the stock a little at a time. Reduce the heat to medium, and continue to stir as you add the stock. As the rice approaches readiness (take a little taste from the pan to test it - it should not be gluggy or mushy, but still have just a little bit of firmness in the middle), add the butter, saffron and a splash of white wine. When the risotto is cooked, add the parmesan and stir through until well-combined. If your risotto is a little heavy or thick at this point, add a little water or another splash of white wine to loosen it. Season to taste and add a little parsley as a garnish.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 35-40 minutes
Serve with: Tomato & Mushroom Ragu, or osso buco, and a glass of good red wine.