Stirring stuff: 10 simple and delicious risotto recipes, from Anna Del Conte, Yotam Ottolenghi, Meera Sodha …

Stirring stuff: 10 simple and delicious risotto recipes, from Anna Del Conte, Yotam Ottolenghi, Meera Sodha …

Risotto is perfect food. Warm, starchy and comforting, it is one of the most versatile dishes the home cook can learn. It is an ideal first food for young children who don’t quite have it in them to chew yet and it’s perfect for anyone under the weather. My mother always taught me, in a manner that would have purists running for the hills, that risotto was basically a dustbin for any scraps you happen to have lying around. That isn’t necessarily the case, but there is still plenty you can do with it, as these 10 recipes attest.

Perfect risotto
If you are new to risotto then allow me to direct you, as always, to Felicity Cloake. Her perfect risotto recipe is now 11 years old and contains nothing but rice, stock, butter, wine, onion and cheese, but every element is able to reach maximum potential. Better yet, if you haven’t made a risotto before, Cloake is very careful to guide you through all the laborious stirring that you’ll need to do. Of course, you don’t have to continually stir every risotto, but we’ll come to that.

Risotto with lemon
Equally simplistic but no less delicious is Anna Del Conte’s risotto with lemon. This is a creamier dish than Cloake’s – which is why it requires actual cream, along with an egg yolk, which is mixed together with parmesan and stirred through the dish a couple of minutes before serving – but it is just a non-stop delight to eat. If you’re going to default to anyone when it comes to risotto, it should probably be Del Conte.

Recioto red wine risotto with lardo
In 2019, Nino Zoccali offered us four types of risotto in the same article. They are all great, but I’m choosing to showcase his recioto red wine risotto with lardo. This is partly because it offers the most thump, in both taste and appearance, but also because I have lost count of the times that I’ve accidentally dumped a load of red wine into my risottos, and the existence of this recipe makes it look like I did it on purpose.

Brussels sprout risotto
Yotam Ottolenghi’s brussels sprout risotto is nothing short of a wonder, transforming what has the potential to be a bitter bowl of slurry into something that might be the most perfect vehicle for brussels sprouts ever created. Try this once and you’ll never eat a risotto-less sprout again.

Nettle risotto
Meanwhile, Locanda Locatelli’s Giorgio Locatelli has a recipe for nettle risotto. There is obviously a mental barrier to trying something like this – you might not want to get stung, or go out and forage for your supper – but the ingredient does have one enormous benefit over nearly everything else covered here today. As Locatelli himself states: “It’s free.”

Vegan risotto
Risotto is also a tremendous vegan dish, as Meera Sodha’s celeriac risotto with caper, sage and lemon oil handily proves. The dairy is replaced with nutritional yeast and a gorgeous oil infused with sage leaves and capers. The star of the dish, though, is the celeriac, which breaks down into a mash during the cooking process and makes every mouthful extraordinarily soft and creamy.

Bacon, chicken and cheddar risotto
Here is where I hold my hands up and admit that, with picky young kids in the house, I have a habit of bastardising my risottos far beyond what most Italians would deem acceptable. The closest I can find to my favoured recipe is this one for bacon, chicken and cheddar risotto by A Flavour Journal. Should any of these things be in a risotto? Probably not, and definitely not together. But you try making it, and then tell me it isn’t delicious.

Spinach and mushroom pearl barley risotto
Equally, there are options for risottos that require non-rice grains. The internet brims with different types of quinoa risotto, and here is a spinach and mushroom pearl barley risotto recipe, courtesy of Olive magazine. It’s good, too. A little stiffer than rice, pearl barley in a risotto always feels slightly more substantial than its more traditional cousin.

Ginger and lemon risotto
Risotto is good for the sick and it is hands down the best thing you can eat when you feel the first murmurings of a cold. The DeTacchi website has a recipe for ginger and lemon risotto that offers such a heavy medicinal punch that it should really come in tablet form. I couldn’t recommend this one more.

Baked risotto
Last, it is worth pointing out that I have stopped making stove-top risotto altogether lately. A traditional risotto requires total, undivided attention, and I constantly find that my attention is being aggressively yanked in a hundred different directions at once, even during dinner time. So what I do is this: I cook my risotto in the oven instead. A baked risotto barely requires any stirring at all; instead you saute onions and herbs in a dutch oven, add the rice and broth, stick in the oven for 15 minutes and you’re done. The Kitchn has a great beginner’s recipe. Get good at that and then you can start to freestyle