Saffron – the world’s most expensive spice! This soothing saffron risotto is delicious on its own or served with a roast chicken and the roasting juices from the tin. Buy the best genuine saffron you can afford – quality does equate to price. An impressive entertaining idea if you've got friends round for dinner. Serves 4.
Handy Risotto tips:
- Melt 50g of the butter in a heavy-based, deep, lidded frying pan, then gently cook the onion for 10 minutes until softened but not coloured.
- Bring the stock to the boil in another pan, then turn down the heat to a simmer.
- Add the rice to the butter and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes to coat the rice and toast the grains. Pour in the wine then bubble until it has been completely absorbed before stirring in the saffron. Add the stock a ladleful or two at a time, stirring the rice from the bottom of the pan as you go. When each ladle of stock has been absorbed, add the next ladleful. Continue this for around 15 minutes. The risotto is ready when the grains are soft and have lost any chalkiness, but still have a little bite to them (you might not need all of the stock).
- Beat in the remaining butter and the parmesan and season with white pepper. Put on a lid and let the risotto sit for 2 minutes, then serve in warm bowls with a scattering of chives.
Handy Risotto tips:
- The base of risotto is incredibly simple, just finely chopped onion which is gently cooked in butter or oil until softened. The rice is then tossed and toasted with the onions and the fat to heat the grains of rice before the liquid is added.
- Wine and stock give the rice most of its flavour so use a decent white wine (one that you’d happily drink the rest of the bottle). If you have homemade stock that is ideal but don’t worry if not. It’s best to keep the stock at a low simmer before adding as this helps keep the cooking of the rice even as the temperature isn’t constantly dropping.
- Finishing the risotto properly is really important. Once the rice is cooked (it should still have a little bite but not be chalky) grated parmesan and butter is beaten in, then the risotto is left to sit for 2 minutes to let all of the ingredients meld together.
- The constant stirring we associate with risotto happens for a reason. This stirring means the rice grains rub against each other which helps release the starch from the grains into the stock for that classic oozy finish. It’s best to use a wide, deep frying or sauté pan for this as it means you can keep the rice moving and the wide surface gives the liquid a chance to evaporate evenly.
- Risotto uses a short grain rice from Italy. The three most common varieties are Arborio, Carnaroli and Vialone Nano, which are used depending on the region. Risotto rice has a certain character which means when cooked it keeps its shape but releases a lot of starch from the surface so once melded with liquid gives the classic creamy risotto result.
- You will need between 50-75g of rice per person depending on whether you are serving a small bowl as a starter or a larger main portion.