One meal. That’s all it takes. To sign a deal, to make up, to win a heart. It should be impressive, delicious, luxurious, yet easy enough to put together while a, pre-occupied with the conversation or b, having had one too many glasses of vino.
Enter the risotto. A delicious conglomeration of rich, unctuous rice that can be as versatile or indulgent as necessary. As with most things, the key is ensuring the simple list of ingredients are great quality with the method though precise, so easy to deliver perfectly again and again, once you have the hang of it.
Incidentally, it’s also super comforting, the perfect solution to ‘It’s Saturday night but I just want to sit on my couch in my fat pants instead of glamming it in da club’ and like a big warm hug for all the crazy single cat ladies. It’s just the gift that keeps on giving really.
And really, the way we make it, it’s just like a grown up mac’n’cheese.
1 litre (4 cups) good quality liquid chicken stock
25g unsalted butter
2 tbsn olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
½ cup white wine
½ cup freshly grated parmesan
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Pour the stock into a saucepan and bring just to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently.
Heat butter and oil in a large non-stick fry pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook on low, stirring – splash in a touch of wine to help the process and take your time here – onions should be soft and translucent, not brown.
Add rice and stir for a minute or until grains appear slightly translucent – you want to stir almost constantly here to really massage the grains. Add rest of wine and cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is completely absorbed.
Add a ladleful (about 1/2 cup) of hot stock. Stir gently. Continue to add the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring then allowing the liquid to be almost absorbed before adding the next ladleful. Cook for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender yet firm to the bite, and the risotto is creamy – splash in some more wine if not quite cooked through, but you should be pretty right.
Remove from heat. Stir in grated parmesan and mascarpone – don’t bother to measure, just a good two spoons should do the trick. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
You can gussy it up however you like from here – mix peas through and throw some sliced chicken over the top. Turn it into a base for osso bucco. Swap the chicken stock for seafood and throw in some prawns. It’s also totally awesome with mushrooms mixed through and a drizzle of truffle oil on the top - food knobs be damned, that stuff is great.