Friday, December 26, 2008

Risi e Bisi

A classic pea and ham risotto from the Veneto. Although this is traditionally served as a starter in Italy, it also makes an excellent supper dish with hot, crusty bread. Recipe serves 4.


6 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 cups simmering chicken stock
1 1/2 cups risotto rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
2 cups frozen baby peas, thawed
4 ounces (125 g) cooked ham, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve


1. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan until foaming. Add the onion and cook gently for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. Have the hot stock ready in an adjacent pan.
2. Add the rice to the onion mixture. Stir until the grains start to swell, then pour in the wine. Stir until it stops sizzling and most of it has been absorbed, then pour in a little hot stock, with salt and pepper to taste. Stir continuously, over a low heat, until all the stock has been absorbed.
3. Add the remaining stock, a little at a time, allowing the rice to absorb all the liquid before adding more, and stirring constantly. Add the peas after about 20 minutes. After 25-30 minutes, the rice should be al dente and the risotto moist and creamy.
4. Gently stir in the diced cooked ham and the remaining butter. Heat through until the butter has melted, then taste for seasoning. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl. Grate of shave a little Parmesan over the top and serve the rest separately.

Tip: Always use fresh Parmesan cheese, grated off a block. It has a far superior flavor to the ready-grated Parmesan.

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