This is a great basic recipe-it can be stretched in so many different ways to turn it into fantastically flavored risottos.
2 pints stock (chicken, fish, or vegetable, as appropriate) 2 tablespoons olive oil a dollop of butter 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped 1/2 a head of celery, trimmed and finely chopped 2 cups risotto (Arborio) rice 2 wineglasses of dry white vermouth (dry Martini or Noilly Prat) or dry white wine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 5 tablespoons butter 4 oz. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Stage 1: Heat the stock. Put the olive oil and butter into a separate pan, add the onion, garlic, and celery, and cook very slowly for about 15 minutes without coloring. This is called a soffrito. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.
Stage 2: The rice will now begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute it will look slightly translucent. Add the vermouth or wine and keep stirring—it will smell fantastic. Any harsh alcohol flavors will evaporate and leave the rice with a tasty essence.
Stage 3: Once the vermouth or wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn the heat down to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and massaging the creamy starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 15 minutes. Taste the rice to check if it’s cooked. If not, carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Don’t forget to check the seasoning carefully. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.
Stage 4: Remove from the heat and add the butter and Parmesan. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow it to sit for 2 minutes. This is the most important part of making the perfect risotto, as this is when it becomes amazingly creamy and oozy like it should be. Eat it as soon as possible, while it retains its beautiful texture.
Excerpted from JAMIE'S ITALY by Jamie Oliver. Copyright (c) 2006 Jamie Oliver. Photographs copyright (c) 2006 David Loftus. All rights reserved. Published by Hyperion. Available in the U.S. in November 2006.
Once you’ve cracked the basic white risotto recipe, it is great topped with a dollop of freshly made pesto-the combination of flavors is just fantastic.a handful of pinenuts 1/2 a clove of garlic, peeled and chopped sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 3 good handfuls of fresh basil, leaves picked and chopped a good handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese extra virgin olive oil 1 risotto bianco (see previous recipe)
First make your pesto. Put your pinenuts on a baking sheet and pop them under the broiler for a minute or so—no more—just to warm through, not brown. This will enhance their flavor. Pound the garlic with a little pinch of salt and the basil leaves in a pestle and mortar, or pulse in a food processor. Add a bit more garlic if you like, but I usually stick to 1/2 a clove. Once pureed, remove to a bowl, then bash the pinenuts to a mush and add to the basil. Add half the Parmesan, stir gently and pour in some olive oil—you need just enough to bind and loosen the sauce to give an oozy consistency. Season to taste, then add most of the remaining cheese. Pour in some more oil and taste again. Keep adding a bit more cheese or oil until you are happy with the taste and consistency.
Make your risotto bianco. At the end of Stage 4, divide it between your plates and top with a dollop of your pesto. Really nice sprinkled with a few extra pinenuts, some freshly grated Parmesan and a few basil leaves.
Anna Tasca Lanza runs the Regaleali estate in Sicily and is one of the most renowned cooks in Italy. Giovanna is the backbone of her kitchen, and this sauce is one of her specialties. She uses it with fish-it’s fantastic with large fish like tuna, swordfish and shark but is also wonderful thrown into a pan with things like squid and shrimp. To be honest, if you smeared it all over a chicken before roasting it you’d do yourself pretty proud too.
juice of 1 lemon extra virgin olive oil sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced a sprig of fresh mint, leaves picked and roughly sliced a sprig of fresh oregano, leaves picked and roughly sliced 4 1/2-inch-thick slices of swordfish or tuna
Squeeze the lemon juice into a bowl and add 3 times the amount of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the garlic, mint and oregano.
Heat a griddle pan or frying pan until very hot and season your swordfish or tuna with salt and pepper. Place it in the pan and cook for around a minute on each side, until golden. This will leave the fish slightly pink in the middle, so if you don’t like the idea of this, feel free to cook it a little more. Divide the fish between your serving plates and spoon the sauce over the top.
7 oz. Cannelloni or borlotti beans, fresh, or dried and soaked overnight 1 bay leaf 1 tomato, squashed 1 small potato, peeled sea salt and freshly ground black pepper olive oil 4 slices smoked pancetta or bacon, chopped 2 small red onions, peeled and finely chopped 2 carrots, peeled and chopped 2 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped 1/2 a head of fennel, chopped 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped a small bunch of fresh basil, leaves and stems separated 2 14-oz. cans of good-quality plum tomatoes 2 small zucchini, quartered and sliced a glass of red wine 1/2 lb. Swiss chard or spinach, washed and roughly sliced (including stalks) 2 cups chicken, ham or vegetable stock 2 oz. dried pasta extra virgin olive oil a block of Parmesan cheese, to serve
Add your fresh or dried and soaked beans to a pan of water with the bay leaf, squashed tomato and potato—this will help to flavor the beans and soften their skins. Cook until tender—check by tasting. They must be soft. Dried beans can take up to an hour, but check fresh ones after 25 minutes. Drain (reserving about half a glass of the cooking water) and discard the bay leaf, tomato and potato. Now season with salt, pepper and a splash of oil.
While the beans are cooking, make your soffrito. Heat a good splash of olive oil in a saucepan and add the chopped pancetta or bacon, onions, carrots, celery, fennel, garlic and the finely sliced basil stems. Sweat very slowly on a low heat, with the lid just ajar, for around 15 to 20 minutes until soft, but not brown. Add the tomatoes, zucchini and red wine and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
Now add the chard or spinach, stock and beans. Put the dried pasta into a plastic bag, squeeze all the air out and tie the end up. Bash gently with a rolling pin to break the pasta into pieces. Snip the end off the bag and empty the contents into the soup. Stir and continue to simmer until the pasta is cooked.
If you think the soup is looking too thick, add a little more of the stock or some of the reserved cooking water to thin it down a bit. Then taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the torn-up basil leaves and with some extra virgin olive oil drizzled over the top. Put a block of Parmesan and a grater on the table for everyone to help themselves. Heaven!