Legendary Dishes | Risotto in Bianco (white rice)


Risotto is toasted rice slow-cooked in an aromatic stock with a butter-oil-onion base and a cheese and seasoning finish. It is made with a variety of ingredients. This is the basic risotto recipe where every risotto cook must start.

The choice of rice for basic risotto is arborio and the quantity is 350 grams to one and half litres of broth. Generally the quantity of rice across the range of risotto dishes is 320 grams to 1.2 litres of liquid, but this varies with the type of risotto rice – with Arborio, Baldo, Carnaroli, Roma and Vialone Nano the popular choices, Arborio favoured more than the others because it has a large grain and keeps its shape during cooking.

However we are going to remain consistent with all our risotto recipes and use 320 grams of rice, with baldo as our choice.

The story of risotto rice is told here.

  • 1.3 litres vegetable broth, heated
  • 320 g baldo rice
  • 100 g onions, chopped small
  • 30 g + 45 g grana padano / parmigiano, grated
  • 60 ml white wine
  • 15 g + 15 g butter
  • 20 ml olive oil
  • 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • Salt, large pinches

Sauté onion in butter and oil over a low heat for ten minutes.

Increase heat, add rice, coat and toast for five minutes. Reduce heat to medium.

Deglaze pan with white wine.

Pour in a ladleful of hot stock, cook until the stock is absorbed. Add a large pinch of salt.

Keep adding ladlefuls of stock one at a time allowing the rice to absorb the liquid, continuing until the rice is al dente, no more than 20 minutes. Taste for flavour and add more salt if necessary.

Finish with a ladle of stock, dots of butter across the surface and about a tablespoon of grated cheese, grana padano or parmigiano. Season with black pepper.

Cover, leave to rest for ten minutes.

Serve with grated cheese. Use three tablespoons to enhance the flavour.

Some years ago the Italian Trade Commission in conjunction with Regione Lombardia and Ente Nationale Risi produced a booklet ‘to promote awareness and increase the popularity of risotto,’ which they described as ‘a traditional dish from the Lombardy region’.

This is their version of the basic recipe.

Fry some very finely chopped onion with butter slowly and carefully so as not to colour the onion.

When the onion is soft, add all the rice in one go and stir to heat the rice through for about 5 minutes, taking care not to brown either the rice or the onion.

When the rice is crackling hot, add a glass of dry white wine and stir for one minute to evaporate, then immediately begin to gradually add the hot stock. Each time add only enough stock to cover the risotto as it cooks, then stir gently until it has been absorbed and add only then add the next quantity. Continue in this way until the rice is cooked through which will be after 20 minutes.

When the rice is cooked but not mushy, the risotto is ready. Add the final quantity of butter and a handful of freshly grated grana padano, stir and cover. Leave to stand for 2 or 3 minutes before serving.