Here's the basic risotto recipe. From it I'll show you how to make it eight different ways, depending on what flavors you fancy, what you've got in the fridge, what time of the year it is or who's coming round for dinner...And if you enjoy making these and want to have a go at some more, then have a look in my Italian book, Jamie's Italy.

This recipe will take you up to a point where the rice is 75 percent ready, and all that's left to do is choose one of these recipes and finish it off. The idea is that if you make this base in advance, you can then spread the rice out on a pan until you're ready to use it (or you can launch straight into flavoring it, in which case the pan won't be needed). Remember to have a large clean pan, rubbed with a little olive oil, right by the stove. It's important that it's large so the rice can be spread thinly. It will cool down faster and not end up cooking itself. If you don't have a big pan, use a couple small ones instead.

Servings: Serves 8
  • 1 3/4 pints vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 large onion , peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 to 5 sticks celery , trimmed and finely chopped
  • 1 pound 6 oz. risotto rice
  • 9 ounces vermouth or dry white wine
Stage 1: Have a large oiled pan on hand. Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Put the olive oil and butter in a separate large pan, add the onion and celery and cook very gently for about 15 minutes, without coloring, until soft. Add the rice (it will sizzle!) and turn up the heat. Don't let the rice or vegetables catch on the bottom of the pan, so keep it moving.

Stage 2: Quickly pour in the vermouth or wine. You will smell the alcohol immediately, so continue stirring until the liquid has evaporated, leaving the rice with a lovely perfume.

Stage 3: Add the stock to the rice, one ladle at a time, stirring and waiting until it has been fully absorbed before adding the next. Turn the heat down to low so the rice doesn't cook too quickly, otherwise the outside of each grain will be stodgy and the inside hard and nutty (you don't want to cook it too slowly either, or it will turn into rice pudding!). Continue to add ladlefuls of stock until it has all been absorbed. This should take about 14 to 15 minutes and give you rice that is beginning to soften but is still a little al dente.

Stage 4: Tip the partially cooked rice out onto the waiting oiled pan. Spread the rice out evenly, about 1 inch thick, on the pan and then put it somewhere cold to cool down. When the rice has lost all its heat, scrape it up carefully with a rubber spatula and store it in a Tupperware container with a lid in the fridge until you're ready to use it. It will keep for a couple days.

This cooked rice is the base for eight recipes, so for each one you will have to refer back to it and make it up to this point first. 

Try Jamie's recipe for Asparagus, Mint and Lemon Risotto

This recipe is taken from Cook with Jamie by Jamie Oliver (Hyperion). © Jamie Oliver, 2007 


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