Risotto is one of those dishes that all good chefs are meant to have in their repertoire, but as a fan of Hell’s Kitchen and Masterchef, I know it’s one of those dishes that trips up even the most accomplished cook. This is my simple, fail safe risotto recipe that is a really handy meal you can knock together quickly with just a few items in the food cupboard but is sufficiently yummy that everyone will think you’ve been slaving for hours over a hot stove!
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 2 onions
- 2 sticks of celery
- 2 carrots
- 35 fluid ounces / 1 litre vegetable stock
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 10½ ounces / 300g risotto rice
- ½ teaspoon of chilli flakes
- 3½ ounces / 100g parmesan, finely grated
Heat the oil in a saute pan.
Blitz the onions, celery and carrots in a food processor and add to the pan.
Cook your vegetables for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, combine the stock and chopped tomatoes and keep warm over a low light.
Once your vegetables have softened, add the rice with the chilli flakes and give a good stir for a minute or so making sure that everything is combined.
Then, using a sieve, pour 2 ladles of your stock into the rice, pressing down with the back of the ladle to squeeze out as much of the tomato as you can.
Continue to stir and as soon as the stock is almost completely absorbed, add another ladle of stock and press the tomato through the sieve, repeating the process each time when the liquid has all been absorbed.
Continue for 25-30 minutes until your risotto is cooked (see Tips below).
Add the parmesan with a good pinch of seasoning, stir to combine and serve.
I like to cook my risotto rice so that it has just a hint of al dente.
The short grain rice that is best for risotto (and similar) recipes is high starch and low amylose. This type of rice is more able to absorb liquid and release starch in the cooking, so it is stickier than long grain varieties. The varieties of risotto rice most used in Italy are Arborio, Baldo, Carnaroli, Maratelli, Padano, Roma, and Violone Nano. Carnaroli and Maratelli are old, historical varieties, and, together with Violone Nano, are the best and most expensive. All the varieties have slightly different properties and are preferred by cooks for one reason or another. Carnaroli is less likely than Violone Nano to become overcooked, but Violone Nano, being smaller, cooks faster and absorbs flavour better. Some are more creamy than others. Some are better for soups and non-risotto dishes. Words such as Superfino, Semifino, and Fino refer specifically to the size and shape of the grain and not to its quality.