“This is comfort food on so many levels. For one, risotto has to be one of the most comforting things to eat. What’s more, although everyone goes on about the finicketiness and crucial fine-tuning involved, I find risotto immensely comforting to make… There is a more personal reason why this is comforting for me. The recipe comes from Anna del Conte (from her Secrets of an Italian Kitchen to be exact) and she, beyond any doubt the best Italian foodwriter around, is the person I turn to for bolstering and solace. Just reading her books provides instant, essential nourishment.”
1 stick of celery
60g unsalted butter
1 tbspn olive oil
300g risotto rice, preferably Vialone Nano
1 litre vegetable stock (I use Marigold stock powder)
Zest and juice of 1/2 an unwaxed lemon
Needles from 2 small sprigs of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 egg yolk
60ml (4 tbspns) grated Parmesan, plus more to sprinkle
60ml (4 tbspns) double cream
Malden salt to taste
Good grating pepper, preferably white
Put the shallots and celery into a Magimix and blitz until they are a finely chopped mush. Heat half the butter, the oil and the shallot and celery mixture in a wide saucepan, and cook to soften the mixture for about 5 minutes making sure it doesn’t catch. Mix in the rice, stirring to give it a good coating of oil and butter. Meanwhile, heat the stock in another saucepan and keep it at simmering point.
Pour in a ladle full of the stock into the rice and keep stirring until the stock is absorbed. Then add another ladle full and stir again, continue doing this until the rice is al dente. You may not need all of the stock, equally, you may need to add hot water from the kettle.
Mix the lemon zest and the rosemary into the risotto, and in a small bowl beat the egg yolk, lemon juice, Parmesan, cream and pepper.
When the risotto is ready – when the rice is no longer chalky but still has some bite – take it off the heat and add the bowl of eggy lemony mixture, and the remaining butter and salt to taste. Serve with more grated Parmesan if you wish, check the seasoning and dive in.