From the Camargue, that strange, low-lying country of black bulls and white horses in the south of France, comes an unusual strain of red rice, now being sold in Britain. Not as refined as white rice, it takes longer to cook and retains more bite. But it can be used to good effect in traditional rice recipes, and I have devised a red risotto to make the most of its colour.
Fry the shallot in the oil, and then stir in the rice until coated with oil. Add a handful of the beetroot, the porcini and their soaking water, and the red wine. Simmer, stirring until the liquid is absorbed. Add a ladle of stock, and let the rice absorb it, before adding more liquid, and so on. Add the seasoning.
Once you have added half the stock, stir in the remaining beetroot. If the rice is not cooked to your liking once you have used all the stock, add boiling water.
Serve the risotto in heated bowls, and sprinkle with chopped chives, if you like. You can stir some grated Parmesan cheese into the risotto before serving it, or pass it round separately.
© 2000 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.