This is one of my favourite rice dishes. Nutritious, economical, versatile and easy to prepare, the soft, creamy texture of this northern Italian classic makes it the perfect comfort food. Basically, it consists of Italian short grain rice gently simmered and stirred until it absorbs its flavoursome cooking liquid. Different meats, fish and vegetables can be added to vary the dish as you wish.

To achieve the correct consistency, always use a good risotto rice, such as arborio. You will need a large, heavy saucepan, preferably with a rounded bottom to prevent the rice sticking at the corners, and a wooden spoon for stirring. The heat should be kept constant and moderate. If risotto cooks too quickly, the rice will be too soft and β€˜chalky’, and if it cooks too slowly, it will have a sticky, glutinous texture. Keep the stock simmering, so that it is always hot when you add it, to avoid any temperature variations while cooking.

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Basic Method

Heat butter or olive oil in the pan, and coat the rice well in it before adding any liquid. Then gradually add the simmering stock, about ΒΌ pt / 140ml at a time, always allowing one batch of stock to be absorbed before adding the next. Stir constantly. Keep adding stock in this way until the rice is cooked. This should take about 20–25 minutes. You may find that the risotto is cooked to your taste before adding all the stock asked for in a recipe. The more liquid you add, the creamier the risotto will be, but the rice should remain just firm to the bite or al dente. If necessary, remove the pan from the heat, cover and allow to stand for a few minutes to absorb any liquid remaining in the pan. Season to taste, and serve immediately. Various flavourings, vegetables, meat and fish can be added during the cooking process, as in the following recipes.