Because I read cookbooks instead of bedtime stories, I have long known that the only correct way to make risotto is by adding a ladelful of stock at a time, stirring continuously. Interestingly, our Italian friends were not aware of this. When I brought it up, they assured me that they don’t make risotto this way, that they don’t know anybody who does and never even heard of such a thing. They just dump the rice in a large pot, add all the stock at once, cover the pot and let it simmer.
I have never made a side by side comparison, so cannot judge whether one of the methods produces a better result, or whether there even is a difference. But I have always made risotto in the ritualistic way and it has always tasted wonderful, so I’m keeping to that.
Risotto is a great way to turn just about any combination of veggies from the garden or the market into an Italian style comfort food dinner. Right now we’re harvesting an abundance of yellow snow peas and sugar snaps. Both snow peas (or “mangetout”) and sugar snaps are the ideal type of pea for the lazy gardener/cook – you don’t need to pod them! The snow pea variety called “Golden Sweet” (seed from Real Seed Catalogue) is especially productive and has to be harvested almost daily. This year I have sown two kinds of sugar snaps, a tall variety and “Cascadia”, which is only about 90 cm tall. The taller one obviously produces a higher overall yield, but we have not noticed any difference in taste.
Risotto with sugar snaps and snow peas
approx. 1,5 liters (6 cups) vegetable stock
250 g sugar snap peas, strings removed
150 g snow peas (mangetout), strings removed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
500 g (2 cups) risotto rice
100 ml (½ cup) dry white wine
1 handful of fresh mint, leaves picked and roughly chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 handful of grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to serve
Have your stock simmering on the stove.
Heat the butter and oil in a wide pot. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until softened, about four minutes. Add the garlic and after another minute add the rice. Turn up the heat, stirring continuously until the rice begins to look translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and stir until it’s absorbed. Turn the heat a little bit down, it should be high enough to maintain a lively bubble. Begin adding the stock, one ladle at a time, adding more after the stock has been absorbed and stirring continuously. When the rice is almost done (after about 15 minutes), and you have about 2 ladelfuls of stock left, add both kinds of peas. Add the last stock and cook for 3 more minutes. Turn off the heat, add the butter, mint and Parmesan and cover the pot. Let sit for a couple of minutes, then check the seasoning. Serve with a little freshly grated Parmesan on top.