Champagne Risotto

This is elegant, delicate and so simple, and I think would beautifully precede a main course grilled (broiled) fish. People may appreciate smaller portions here, so it could serve even more. You could add an extra ingredient — a couple of shelled prawns (shrimp) or some asparagus — but I actually like the almost startling honesty of just Champagne. I have also seen a whisked egg yolk incorporated into the risotto at the last moment. It is not necessary to use the best Champagne; you could also use prosecco. You will need just a couple of cupfuls for the risotto, so you can have a glass yourself while you are stirring and definitely serve it with a glass or two as well. Scarmoza and cacciotta are types of dry mozzarella cheese.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small french shallots, finely chopped
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 600 ml (21 fl oz) champagne
  • 50 g ( oz) parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra, for serving
  • 80 g ( oz) unsmoked scarmoza or cacciotta cheese, grated
  • 40 g ( oz) butter

Method

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan with high sides. Sauté the shallots gently for 5 minutes until they are softened and slightly golden. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or so, until it is well coated with the oil. Add 300 ml (10½ fl oz) Champagne, stir and let the rice absorb it before you add one ladleful of hot water. When it has been absorbed, add another ladleful, stirring continuously to prevent the risotto sticking. Continue cooking the risotto in this way, making sure the water is absorbed before the next ladleful is added. After about 20 minutes you should have added about 1 litre (4 cups) of water. Add salt to taste.

When the rice has absorbed all the water, add the remaining Champagne. Stir well and then stir in the parmesan, scarmoza and butter. Taste for salt again and serve immediately, with freshly ground black pepper and extra grated parmesan.