If there’s one dish you should never rush through, it’s a big pot of risotto. Picture: Supplied
If there’s one dish you should never rush through, it’s a big pot of risotto. Picture: Supplied

RECIPE: How to make the perfect risotto

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published Jul 23, 2021

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If there’s one dish you should never rush through, it’s a big pot of risotto.

Risotto is a way of life, not only cooking; it’s an old technique involving slow cooking with broth.

Preparing the perfect risotto is not easy, but South Africa’s foremost shopping pantry for all things Italian, Italian Deli Online, also notes that making it doesn’t have to be difficult.

Below they share easy tips with the basic recipe to make the process easier.


  • Your stock must be hot – keep it just simmering on the ring next to your risotto pot.
  • Cook the rice in hot butter or oil for one minute before adding liquid.
  • Get the temperature right – the rice should cook at a constant medium bubble.
  • Stir every 30 seconds or so, keep the rice moving so it doesn’t stick to the pot.
  • Allow the cooked risotto to sit off the heat for two minutes before stirring in extra butter and Parmesan for the finishing touch.

Basic risotto


1 medium onion chopped fine

40g butter

320g arborio or carnaroli rice

125ml dry white wine

1 litre good quality chicken or vegetable stock, at simmering point

Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.


Use a wide, heavy-bottomed pan. Melt the butter and gently sauté the onion until soft and translucent.

Over medium heat, stir the rice into the hot butter and cook for one minute until it becomes translucent.

Pour in the wine and stir until it has all been absorbed or evaporated.

Add a ladleful of the hot stock and stir. As soon as that has been absorbed, add stock one ladle at a time. Stir at least every 30 seconds or as often as is needed to avoid the rice sticking. The rice should cook in a medium bubble in this way for 16-18 minutes until all the stock is absorbed.

The rice grains should be soft and tender to the bite, but slightly firm (not chalky) in the middle. Cook for longer, adding hot water if needed.

Remove rice from the heat and let sit covered for two minutes before stirring in the grated Parmesan and an extra knob of butter. Check for seasoning and serve.

Suggested flavourings to add to the basic risotto recipe:

Fresh mushrooms, cooked with the onions, before adding rice. Add chopped flat-leaf parsley at the final cooking stage.

Fresh or defrosted frozen peas are added to the onions once they have softened and cooked until tender before adding the rice. A few chopped mint leaves go nicely with this.

Butternut, roasted and then pureed, added to the risotto halfway through cooking.

Gorgonzola cheese stirred into the risotto at the end of the heat, with chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice.

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