Sarjano has many Risotto recipes up his sleeve. This delicious recipe can of course be adapted and any leftovers are perfect to make Arancini the next day!
for 4 servings
400 g Arborio rice
2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion
250 g button mushroom – add some porcini mushrooms if available
250 g shelled green peas (if you want to use frozen ones, defrost them before use!)
1 glass of white wine
1 litre vegetable broth
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
250 g cream
a sprinkle of Parmesan
for vegetarian broth
a small head of celery
First, here is the basic recipe for a vegetarian broth for a risotto. (There are people who end up using Maggi cubes as a shortcut, but I hope none of them are reading this book!)
You’ll use only carrot, onion and celery to make your broth. That’s it. Because if you make your broth too strong or too determined in taste, it may spoil your risotto. The broth should be light and delicate.
Of course you can add thyme leaves, black peppercorns, basil, marjoram or whatever, but I insist that the broth should be light and not taste too strongly of any particular herb. You need to keep it simple to make a good risotto. There is no need to mix too many tastes, too many herbs, too much cheese.
Heat the butter and sauté the onion, very finely chopped. When golden, I add the mushrooms in slices, cook for 2 minutes then I add the rice and wine.
I stir gently until it’s dry, then I add the green peas. I start adding the broth and keep on adding one cup at a time until the rice is cooked.
Two minutes before the finish, when I taste the risotto, I add the cream, stir gently for one minute, switch off the fire and leave the pan covered for a few minutes.
When I serve this risotto, it is creamy and never too dry. I also sprinkle a little Parmesan on top.
If you get the pattern right, you will also know how to make risotto with asparagus, risotto with artichokes, risotto with pumpkin and walnuts, risotto with saffron, risotto alla Milanese, risotto with zucchini, or any risotto you can think of! If you make risi e bisi, as they call it in Venice, your risotto should taste mainly of green peas, and not be dominated by the flavours of herbs.
For all these preparations, the method is the same: washed rice, broth, the vegetable you like, onions or garlic to start with, oil or butter to sauté them. Then add the veggies, then the rice, then cups of broth one by one until the rice is cooked.
You can decide on the combinations to start with. There are cooks who think that the more herbs you add to your preparations, the better it is. Even Italy is full of these acrobats, who seriously think that adding leaves of basil and rosemary and marjoram can improve their risotto! No way! One herb at a time gives the best flavour, according to me. Sometimes a mix of two can be appropriate, but that’s it. This is a rule that applies not only to risotto, but also to tomato sauces, and to almost any sauce, with the exceptions of all those known as green sauces.
So now that you know how to make a risotto.
Welcome to the Italian land of risotto!