I sincerely believe risotto is easy to make.  All it takes is a little time.  It’s a great recipe to have in your repertoire; the basics are all the same and with a few variations to the add-ins you’ve got a different meal every time.

This particular flavor combination may seem a bit odd, but I’ve made it twice now to rave reviews.  The crispness of the lemon is softened by the goat’s cheese; it is especially delicious when served with a roasted leg of lamb that’s been pre-steeped in a bit of the lemon, minced shallot, orange juice and a splash of soy sauce.

basic risotto

1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock

To prepare the basic risotto, lightly toast rice in large saucepan (I use my wok) over medium high heat, in equal parts butter and olive oil, for 4-5 minutes.

Add white wine and cook for another 3-4 minutes to burn off the alcohol, then reduce heat to low.  Slowly add chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, allowing it to fully absorb into the rice before adding more.  Stir occasionally (I find, constant stirring is not necessary).

Cook for 25-35 minutes or until rice is soft. 5-10 minutes prior to end of cook time, add salt & pepper and whatever others spices, meats, vegetables, nuts or cheese desired, and voila!

How to make an intermediate risotto: at the beginning, saute 3-4 cloves garlic (diced) and 3-4 shallots (diced) in butter and oil first, before adding the rice. Use a homemade chicken stock, made from boiling a whole chicken or bones, veggies and a few bay leaves, not that store bought stuff…

preserved lemon, herb and goat cheese risotto

200g chevre
4-5 half-pieces of preserved lemon, finely diced
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh herbs: e.g., basil, parsley, sage, chive
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Prepare basic/intermediate risotto.  Add preserved lemon after 10 minutes of cooking time, when rice is still semi-hard, so the lemon has a little time to cook down and to let the flavors meld.  When rice is fully cooked, add fresh herbs, chevre, a healthy amount of fresh cracked pepper and toasted pine nuts.

Stir and allow cheese to melt in, about 1-2 mins more, and serve.

(basic ingredients)

(risotto, roast leg of lamb, stuffed zucchini flowers and rocket salad)

(always good to have someone to help with the stirring)