Good risotto is all about the timing, ladling stock gradually and stirring calmly and serenely.
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- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 350g Italian risotto rice (eg, arborio)
- 200ml dry white wine
- 1.2lt chicken stock, heated
- 200g peas
- 100g sliced ham off the bone
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan plus extra to serve
- 2 tbsp flat parsley leaves
Melt one tablespoon of butter with olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan or pot, add onion and cook for three minutes until it softens. Add unwashed rice, and cook for three minutes, coating it in the onion.
Add wine, and let it bubble and be absorbed as you stir. Add half a cup of hot stock to the rice, stirring carefully and calmly with a wooden spoon over medium heat. When the rice has absorbed the stock, add another half cup, and so on, stirring continuously over medium heat until the rice is tender but not soft, with a creamy consistency (about 20 minutes).
Cook peas in simmering salted water for one minute, then drain. Dice or shred ham. Add ham and most of the peas, stirring well, adding a little extra stock if rice is too stiff - it should be just soupy enough to move across a tilted plate.
Beat in remaining butter, sea salt, a generous amount of pepper and parmesan and serve in warm, shallow plates. Scatter with remaining peas, parsley and grated parmesan.
Tip Great Italian cookery authority Marcella Hazan suggests tasting the rice after 20 minutes of cooking. ''It is done when it is tender, but firm to the bite,'' she says. ''Never cook rice until it is soft at the centre.''