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How to Cook Risotto; Your Reliable Dinner Go-To Dish

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How to Cook Risotto; Your Reliable Dinner Go-To Dish

Lost for dinner plans? We've seen the nation turn to cooking during this lockdown period, making the most of their meals at home and experimenting with new menus and skills. But sourcing inspiration and planning what to cook every night of the week can take it's toll, particularly if you've got a hungry family to feed! Sometimes you just need to whip up a fuss-free comfort dish which doesn't require heaps of ingredients or prep; this is where your trusted friend the risotto hits the spot. This Italian favourite is tasty, filling, and is easily adaptable to what you have in your fridge.

Here's our recipe for parmesan risotto from our How to Cook book, with lots of variations of how to mix it up to your taste.

If you're interested in taking your home cooking skills to the next level whilst spending time at home, perhaps even to pursue a professional qualification, take a look at the online courses we have to offer here: https://www.leiths.com/online-...


Serves 4

Parmesan Risotto
100g unsalted butter
100g parmesan cheese (plus extra to serve)
300g risotto rice (Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano)
150ml dry white wine
1.5-2 litres chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Halve, peel and fnely dice the onion. Melt half the butter in a large, shallow saucepan, add the onion and sweat over a low heat until completely soft but not coloured, at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, grate the Parmesan and set aside.
  2. Add the rice to the pan and fry gently, stirring until it has had a chance to heat up and every grain is coated in the butter. Add the wine and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook, stirring, until the rice has absorbed all the wine.
  3. Meanwhile, put the stock in a separate saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer, then reduce the heat to as low as possible
  4. Once the wine is absorbed, start adding the stock a small ladleful at a time, stirring constantly and gently, making sure each ladleful is absorbed before adding the next. Continue until the rice is just cooked, but still al dente, about 25 minutes. If the stock runs out before the rice is cooked, use a little boiling water.
  5. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the remaining butter and the Parmesan. Season to taste with pepper, and salt if required. Allow the risotto to stand, covered, for 5 minutes before serving, with extra grated Parmesan, if you like.
  6. NOTE: A traditional Italian risotto has a loose, almost sloppy texture and should give a little when plated. When left to stand before serving, your risotto will absorb more liquid, so make sure it is fluid otherwise it will become thick and heavy


Saffron risotto (risotto Milanese)

Add about 15 saffron strands to the hot stock and allow to infuse for 10 minutes before starting the risotto.

Wild mushroom risotto

Add 15–20g dried wild mushrooms to the stock, bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 10–15 minutes. Strain the stock and return to the pan ready for making the risotto. Sauté the soaked mushrooms with 400g mixed wild mushrooms in 50g butter over a medium to high heat for 3–4 minutes, or until lightly browned and the excess water has been driven off. Stir into the risotto with the butter and Parmesan.

Crab risotto

Use shellfsh or fish stock rather than chicken or vegetable stock. Omit the Parmesan. Stir in 300g prepared white crab meat once the rice is cooked, then remove from the heat, stir in the unsalted butter, season with salt and pepper and allow to stand as for the main recipe. Before serving, stir in 1–2 tbsp finely chopped chives and a little fnely grated lemon zest, and juice, to taste.

Pea risotto

Omit the Parmesan. Make a pea purée by sweating 1 fnely chopped shallot in 15g butter, then add 200ml chicken and veal stock and 400g defrosted frozen peas. Add a little salt and pepper and simmer gently for 4–5 minutes until the peas are tender. Drain the peas and blend until completely smooth, adding a little of the cooking liquor if it is too thick. Pass through a sieve. The pea purée should be the consistency of Greek yoghurt. Stir this into the risotto, to taste, with 2 tbsp mascarpone and the fnely grated zest of ½ lemon. You can also stir in 50g cooked petit pois before serving.

Roast butternut squash risotto

Peel and deseed 1 large butternut squash. Grate one-third coarsely and set aside. Cut the rest into 2cm chunks and toss these in enough olive oil to coat. Season well, spread out on a baking sheet and bake in an oven preheated to 200°C/gas mark 6 for 20–30 minutes, turning once, until golden and soft. Proceed as for the main recipe, cooking the grated squash in the butter with the onion. Stir 30g unsalted butter into the fnished risotto, followed by the roasted squash. Serve with extra Parmesan and fried sage leaves.


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