An extra bit of cured meat can negate the need for stock in risotto. If you don't have extra cured meat or homemade stock, don't use store-bought stock – use water instead. As for the rice, vialone nano is the most foolproof, but arborio works, too.
- 2 L chicken stock
- 30 g butter
- 150 g pancetta (see Note), finely chopped
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 400 g (2 cups) vialone nano (see Note) or arborio
- 375 ml (1½ cups) white wine
- 2 cups thinly sliced cavolo nero (see Note) or kale
- 80 g pecorino (see Note), finely grated
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.
Resting time 5 minutes
Place stock in a saucepan over medium-low heat and bring to a gentle simmer.
Meanwhile, heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and gently fry pancetta for 3 minutes to release some fat. Add the onions and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Continue frying, with a lid on, for a further 5 minutes or until the onions have softened.
Fire the heat up to high, stir in the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until heated through. Test this by squeezing a grain between your fingers – the warmth should come through from the centre. Pour in the wine, throw in the cavolo nero and stir constantly as the wine evaporates. Turn the heat down to medium and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until the rice has absorbed almost all the wine.
Add the simmering stock, one ladleful at a time, stirring the whole time as you do so and waiting until the stock has been absorbed before adding the next ladleful. Continue adding the stock and stirring for about 15 minutes, then check the rice. You want it to be firm but not grainy.
Stir in half the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. For some reason, risotto gets better if left to sit for a bit before serving, so let it sit for 5 minutes. Spoon onto plates and serve with the remaining cheese.
• Pancetta, vialone nano and pecorino are available from select delis, greengrocers and specialist food shops.
• Cavolo nero is Tuscan black cabbage. It is available from select greengrocers.
Photography Alan Benson.