Risotto alla Sbirraglia

Risotto of the Serene Republic Guards


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

This simple but rich chicken risotto is named after the men who guarded the treasures of Venice when it was known as La Serenissima, or the Serene Republic (the guards were called sbirraglia, or sbirri, and the latter term is still used as slang to refer to the police). The use of vialone rice reflects the importance that Italians place on their local ingredients. It is very hard-grained and is the rice most traditionally used in this region. The larger type, gigante, is hard to find outside of Italy or indeed the region itself, but fortunately vialone nano is easier to source, because it is widely exported.


  • 50 g/2 oz/¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 500 g/ lb skinless chicken, cubed
  • 175 ml/6 fl oz/¾ cup dry white wine
  • 350 g/12 oz vialone nano gigante or vialone nano rice
  • 1 litre/ pints/4 cups rich beef stock, simmering
  • 60 ml/4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • sea salt and ground black pepper


  1. Heat half the butter in a large pan, add the onion and fry until pale golden. Add the chicken cubes and cook gently, stirring frequently, until lightly browned.

  2. Pour in the wine and cook for 2 minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate, then add the rice. Stir thoroughly, then add one ladleful of stock and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is absorbed.

  3. Continue adding stock a ladleful at a time and stirring constantly, for 25-30 minutes, until the rice is tender. Always allow the liquid to be absorbed before adding more.
  4. Stir in the remaining butter and half the cheese. Add salt if needed, then remove from the heat. Cover, leave to rest for 3 minutes, then transfer to a platter. Sprinkle with pepper and the remaining cheese and serve.