Ham, pea and parmesan risotto

Jill Dupleix
Jill Dupleix's riffable risotto.
Jill Dupleix's riffable risotto. Photo: Marina Oliphant

What you learn: Patience. It's all about the timing, the rolling rhythm of adding the stock over the right amount of heat, and stirring calmly and serenely. Of importance is good chicken stock, the correct consistency of great risotto and the need for quality parmesan cheese.


3 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

350g Italian risotto rice (eg, arborio)

200ml dry white wine

1.2 litres 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


1. 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.

2. 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).

3. 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.

4. 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."

This is one of Jill Dupleix's 10 recipes everyone should master.