Risotto is one of the most popular dishes in all of Italy. I find it exciting because it can take on so many combinations.

There are many different types of rice – from basmati to long-grain, wild and others – but for risotto the best rice to use is arborio, which can be obtained from most supermarkets and delicatessens. Arborio is a region in Italy where this rice is produced and, of course, there are several varieties available; you will find that they all make good risotto. The best is a medium-grain which has an outer layer that disintegrates during cooking, producing the starch to give a good, creamy texture.

I’ve used wild mushrooms in the recipe but if you find these hard to get, then just substitute with more sliced button mushrooms. The dish will still be good to eat as a starter or a vegetarian main course (see p. 159).

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Ingredients

  • 1.2 litres (2 pints) Chicken or Vegetable Stock
  • 100 g (4 oz) unsalted butter
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 100 g (4 oz) button mushrooms, sliced
  • 100 g (4 oz) fresh oyster mushrooms (optional)
  • 50 g (2 oz) mixed wild mushrooms (optional)
  • 50–75 g (2–3 oz) bone marrow, chopped (optional)
  • 225 g (8 oz) arborio rice
  • 50 g (2 oz) Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Method

Firstly heat the chicken or vegetable stock and keep it warm. Melt the butter in a large pan and add the chopped onions and garlic. Allow this to cook for 2–3 minutes without colouring. Add all the mushrooms and continue to cook and stir for a further 2–3 minutes. If this is not to be a vegetarian risotto, add the chopped bone marrow for extra richness and taste. Next, add the rice and stir continually over a low heat for a few minutes, just softening the rice.

Over a medium heat, begin to add the hot stock, a ladle at a time, allowing the rice to absorb all the stock before adding any more. Just continue to add stock gradually and stir until the rice has softened, which should take about 15–20 minutes.

Grate three-quarters of the Parmesan and slice the remainder as thinly as possible into flakes, or use a potato peeler. When the rice is ready, season with salt and pepper and stir in the grated Parmesan. The finished dish should be light and creamy. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan flakes, and serve.

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