Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Risotto variations

It has taken a while (a couple of years, to be exact), but I've finally found a basic technique for risotto that I can make without referring to a recipe. You see, I've always wanted to be able to throw a couple of ingredients together in a pot, give it a quick stir, then arrange it attractively on a plate with a cheerful garnish of parsley. But my inherent worrying nature kicks in whenever I try something new, and I have to constantly keep looking up the recipe in case I've left out a step - even when all it says is 'put the ingredients in a pot and stir'.

Not only is this basic risotto really simple, the standing around for 17-20 minutes, stirring, is not such a big deal, either. You can spend the time checking your Instagram feed, or daydreaming, or shooing away the cat who is always nosying around whenever there is food.  Oh, and to make things even easier, I've discovered that stock cubes are not so bad after all. I use Massel chicken stock cubes (contains no flavour enhancers and no meat/chicken), and it provides a taste that is better than the packaged stock that I used to use.

Basic Risotto
serves 2

25g butter
1 tsp olive oil
3/4 cups arborio rice
¼ cup white wine (optional)
450ml hot chicken stock (or 1 ½ chicken stock cubes dissolved in 450ml boiling water)

1. Melt the butter and olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add the rice and stir for 30 seconds, to coat the grains in the butter/oil.
3. Add the white wine, if using, and stir until the wine evaporates, about 1 minute.
4. Add a ¼ cup of the hot stock, stirring until the liquid evaporates. Repeat until all the stock is used. It should take about 17-20 minutes for the stock to evaporate, and the rice should be cooked but not too soft, and ready to serve.


Porcini and mushroom: Soften a handful of dried porcini mushrooms in hot water for 15 minutes, then drain and chop. Add porcini and sliced button mushrooms to the rice about halfway through cooking. Top with crisp prosciutto before serving.

Leek, asparagus and parmesan: Soften some chopped leek in the melted butter and oil (4 minutes)  before adding the rice. Cook as per basic recipe, adding a couple of stalks of chopped asparagus during the second-last ¼ cup of chicken stock. Allow risotto to stand for a minute before serving with grated parmesan cheese.

Mushroom, bacon, onion, spinach: Cook finely chopped onion in the melted butter and oil for 3 minutes before adding the rice. Cook as per basic recipe, then add mushrooms and spinach during final ¼ cup of chicken stock. Top with crisp bacon to serve.

Yes, yes, I use 'chicken' stock cubes. It does taste good, but.

 Porcini mushrooms give a rich flavour to this risotto. So does the crispy prosciutto.

Green and mean, this leek and asparagus version ticks the vegetarian boxes.

This risotto is pretty much a 'throw all your leftover bits and pieces in' version. 
Again, very flavoursome and easy to make.


  1. I have a friend for whom risotto is her "simple, throw together" dish...for me it's a nightmare. I've found an "oven bake" method that works really well (super lazy, super easy). I hope you keep the water from soaking your porcinis - it adds good flavour to the risotto. And I use Massel stock cubes too...easy peasy!

  2. Thanks for this! I tried risotto for the first time last month, and it was pretty gluggy! Lovely pics, by the way. ;)

  3. Risotto is my favorite "impressive" food t make! These are some fun variations!

  4. Hehe well when you put it that way the 17 or so minutes would just fly by! Remember life before smartphones? Oh how they fill in the time nowadays! :D

  5. You know what, when I want to throw stuff together, I usually make some hodge-podge fried rice. Risotto still frightens me. I think it's all that stirring. If I don't stir, will it turn into cement? Because that's all I can think about. Yep, I'm one of those people that order risotto when they dine out because they're too frightened to make it at home!

  6. Hi,
    We’ve recently launched the website Everyrecipe.com.au. It’s a search engine that aims to gather all the best recipes from Australian websites and blogs. We’ve noticed that you have a lot of great looking recipes on your blog that we would love to feature on our site. To read more about how it all works and to sign up with your blog, please visit: http://everyrecipe.com.au or send us an email on info@everyrecipe.com.au. We look forward to hearing from you!

    Kind regards,

  7. Wow, that is simple. I bet for me it'll just be a disaster. But I can't knock it til I try it, right? I do like how you can always change it up a little. Love the look of the asparagus one.. but the sound of porcini mushrooms is devine!

  8. I like all versions of your risotto...and would love to try them all...I would have a hard time to pick which one I would start with.
    Have a great week Bel!

  9. I love the variations you have shown here and I am going to go out and get some Massel tomorrow - so over getting giant boxes of stock..

  10. I actually have no problem at all with chicken stock cubes. They ain't that bad.
    Love all different kinds of risottos.

  11. Yum! These rissottos look so good, I would love to have a spoon and be able to dig in! I use stock cubes at times too, very handy ;)