Risotto is a common staple in Italy. It is a rice dish cooked till a creamy consistency in a broth using the specific Arborio short rice grains. If I could be allowed to make this comparison, it is the equivalent of the Asian rice porridge where rice is boiled in water for an extended time to make for a delicate soupy consistency. The difference is that for risotto, broth and wine are gradually added to the rice, followed by butter and cheese to ‘cream’ it at the end of the cooking. Asian porridge, on the other hand, traditionally uses long grain rice and plain water to create a more watery and less sticky texture; the flavours of the Asian porridge come from either the additional ingredients added to it or the side dishes served alongside the plain rice dish.
Admittedly, I have only eaten risotto once in my life – on one of my first few lunch dates with the guy at Suntec City. I remember that one was served with a milky broth with sweet raisins and spices. This recipe intends to churn out the savoury version of risotto that is cooked with the favourite ingredients of the Italians – cheese and prosciutto ham.
- Chicken stock cube: 3
- Boiling water: 9 cups (about 1.5 liters)
- Unsalted butter: 1 tbsp
- Olive oil: 2 tbsp
- Onion: 1 large, chopped
- Brown mushroom: 200g, sliced
- Arborio rice: 4 cups
- White wine: 1 cup
- Salt: 1/2 tsp
- Grated parmesan cheese: 1 cup
- Thyme: 8 stalks of leaves
- Mint: 2 stalks of leaves, finely chopped
- Prosciutto ham: 300g, diced
- Ground blackpepper: 1 tsp
- Add chicken cubes to boiling water. Set chicken stock aside.
- Melt butter in pot. Add olive oil and onions and fry till fragrant.
- Add mushrooms. Fry 3 min till softened.
- Mix in rice and wine. Stir to toast rice evenly.
- Add chicken stock cup-by-cup till completely absorbed by rice (about 30 min).
- Add salt, cheese, thyme, mint, ham and pepper.
- Garnish with extra thyme to serve.
- Other ingredients to cook risotto with, in place of ham and mushroom, include sausage meat, chicken, bacon, mixed peas etc.
- You can add in more stock if you like your risotto to be ‘wetter’ than what I have here.
- I added in so much ham that my mushrooms literally disappeared into the dish!
- This recipe is actually similar to the first steps of my Italian arancini recipe. Making a good bowl of risotto is in fact the key step to making great Italian rice balls!