Risotto Bianco is the most basic of all risottos. Master the technique and you can make any risotto you like. It’s the perfect vehicle for using up leftover roast meat and vegetables or any of the variations below.
Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes
1.25 litres (5 cups) chicken, beef or veal stock
3 tablespoons (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
440g (2 cups) arborio or other risotto rice
125ml (1/2 cup) white wine
4 tablespoons (1/3 cup) chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil and sage
100g (1 cup) freshly grated parmesan
1 Put the stock in a saucepan and heat to boiling. Reduce the heat and maintain at a simmer.
2 Heat the olive oil and half the butter in a large heavy-based frying pan over moderate heat. When the butter has melted, add the onion and fry for a minute or two without browning. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent. Add the rice and stir well to coat with the oil and butter (it will take on a glassy appearance). Add the wine and stir until it has evaporated.
3 Reduce the heat to low and add one ladleful of hot stock. Stir constantly until the liquid is completely absorbed. Keep adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring and waiting until it has been completely absorbed by the rice before adding the next ladle. Keep it cooking at a low simmer. After about 15 minutes taste a few grains of rice: it should be tender, not soft, yet still a little firm to the bite. It will probably take around 20-25 minutes to reach this point. When the risotto is ready it should still be a little liquid, not dry like fried rice.
4 Fold in the herbs, remaining butter and parmesan. If you have any leftover roast chicken or vegetables such as pumpkin, add them now. Even sliced cooked sausage is good. Taste for salt and pepper. Usually the stock and parmesan make the risotto salty enough and ground black pepper is better left to the individual. Spoon into warm bowls and serve at once.
To make a mushroom risotto, use beef stock and replace the herbs with 500g mushrooms. Wipe the mushrooms clean with kitchen paper; never wash them. Leave button mushrooms whole and slice larger varieties. Saute in butter for a few minutes before adding to the risotto. For asparagus risotto, use chicken stock and replace the herbs with cooked chopped asparagus. Or use chicken or veal stock and replace the herbs with 250g chopped ham or cooked, crumbled bacon or pancetta and 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley.
Credits Recipe and photograph also appeared in The OzHarvest Cookbook, published by OzHarvest