"A risotto in all its luxurious creaminess is an absolute joy but add one of the supreme ingredients of the earth - saffron - and it becomes something truly exceptional. The colour, aroma and flavour all contribute to the sensual experience - and our chef friend Alessandro Pavoni (Ormeggio at the Spit, Via Alta, Sotto Sopra, Chiosco) never tires of it. He loves to use an aged carnaroli rice grown in Piedmont and shares his tips here." Maeve O'Meara, Food Safari Earth
This risotto is made “all’onda” (in the ‘wave style’), which is typical of northern Italy. It should take about 18 minutes to make from the time you start adding the liquid.
- 25 g unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
- 500 g carnaroli rice
- 1 g saffron threads, soaked in a little stock for 10 minutes
- 50 g parmesan, finely grated
- 200 g carrots
- 2 sticks celery
- 4 onions
- 4 Roma tomatoes
- 3 leeks, white part only
- 1 head fennel
- 50 g salt
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 golden French shallot, finely sliced
- 250 ml (1 cup) white wine vinegar
- 125 ml (½ cup) white wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 peppercorns
- 250 g unsalted butter, chopped
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
For the stock, wash all the vegetables, then coarsely chop and place in a stockpot or large saucepan. Add the salt and 10 litres water, bring to the boil over high heat, then simmer for 30 minutes. Strain and discard the solids. Makes about 6 litres.
Meanwhile, for the acid butter, heat the oil in a saucepan over low heat. Add the shallot and cook for 1-2 minutes or until soft. Add the vinegar, wine, bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring to the boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until reduced to about 60 ml (¼ cup). Strain the liquid through a fine sieve into a food processor. Add the butter and process until incorporated. Spread into a sheet of baking paper, roll up tightly and refrigerate until firm. The acid butter will make more than you need for this recipe but will keep refrigerated for 1 week or frozen for up to 4 weeks.
Melt the butter with the olive oil in a high-sided frying pan over medium heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring continuously for 3-4 minutes or until very hot but not coloured; it should start to smell toasty. Add several ladles of hot vegetable stock, the saffron and a pinch of salt. Cook for 12 minutes, adding more stock, one ladle at a time as each one is absorbed and shaking the pan rather than stirring to combine. Make sure you monitor the temperature – it should be simmering, and check that the rice is not sticking to the bottom of the pan.
After 12 minutes, start to stir and continue adding stock as needed – this step should take about 6 minutes. In total you will need about 2.5 litres stock. Cook until the rice is al dente. Remove the pan from the heat, add 50 g acid butter and parmesan and cover, without stirring and set aside for 1 minute.
Using a wooden spoon and shaking the pan, beat to create a creamy consistency, adding a little more stock if necessary to get the right consistency. Taste for seasoning and add a drizzle of olive oil. Shake the pan again. Spoon onto 6 flat plates and tap the plate gently on a tea towel-covered workbench to flatten out the risotto. Drizzle with olive oil to serve.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Emma Warren. Creative concept by Belinda So.