Risotto (several variations)

Serves 2 People

You need to stir risotto pretty much continuously while it cooks, so prepare (slice/chop/measure) everything before you start cooking, unless you have an assistant in the kitchen. Stirring is actually the one and only trick to making risotto, so don’t take shortcuts.

Risotto takes about 25 minutes to cook.

You can freeze leftover risotto (but it is never as good as when fresh). If you do, it is best heated in a microwave. However you heat it, it will need a little extra liquid (about a tablespoon per portion).

Basic Risotto Recipe:

Butternut Squash Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto

  1. Dice a large white onion.
  2. Finely chop 2 cloves of garlic.
  3. Put the onions and garlic in a large pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  4. Fry on a medium heat until the onion starts to become transparent.
  5. Add a cup of risotto rice (actually, you can make risotto with any rice, but it is better with the right kind), and stir continuously for 3 minutes.
  6. Add a cup of white wine, in stages (e.g. about a quarter at a time), stirring until the liquid is absorbed before adding the next dose of wine.
  7. Add a generous pinch of ground nutmeg, and a tiny pinch of allspice (optional – be careful, as too much allspice will make the risotto bitter).
  8. Add a cup of cream, also in stages, stirring continuously.
  9. Check, by tasting, that the rice is not crunchy; keep cooking and stirring until the rice is soft. You might need to add a little more liquid (it depends on how you like your risotto: wet or dry); water or cream (adding more wine at this stage may curdle the risotto).
  10. Stir in a cup of grated parmesan.
  11. Leave to rest for about 5 minutes, then serve.

Butternut Squash Risotto:

As above, but add steamed and mashed butternut squash when you add the parmesan


Butternut squash takes about 10 minutes to steam (less if it is frozen) so you can start steaming once you have started cooking the risotto.

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto:

Add chopped mushrooms (we use mixed “forest mushrooms”, but you can use any mushrooms – you can add them frozen and chop them in the pan using a knife against the back of a wooden spoon, once they have defrosted a bit) when you have added all the wine.

I usually stir in a sprinkle of truffle oil (about a teaspoonful) for more flavour, once I have taken it off the heat (the flavour of truffles is very fragile; cooking destroys the taste). Not all truffle oil is created equal, so you may need to shop around to find one that has real flavour (and expect it to be expensive).

Truffle Risotto:

If you can get fresh truffles, stir them in once you remove the risotto from the heat; you don’t need much (it’s a matter of taste). You should either grate them, or use one of those cheese slicers (see photo below) to get really thin slices. Summer truffles (which you can buy in a jar) have much less flavour, so you will probably need a whole one for two people (grated).

Cheese Slicer

Meat Risotto:

Risotto is also a good way to use up leftover roast meat. For cooked meat, add the sliced/chopped meat after cooking the onions and garlic; for raw meat, add it to the pan at the same time as the onions and garlic.

I usually also add a heaped teaspoonful of Sambal Oelek. You can use a finely chopped chili instead, or grind the chili with a pestle and mortar. Add it with the onions and garlic (frying brings out the flavour of the chili).