How to cook risotto

Posted on 27/09/13

Risotto is a dish that many people believe is extremely difficult to get right… this is not the case! This wonderful versatile dish is very simple and delicious if cooked correctly by following this easy step by step recipe for a stunning mushroom and pancetta risotto. Our Italian chef Sara Danesin Medio at Seasoned Cookery School says that the secret to a great risotto is the stock as this is what carries the flavour.  Within this recipe, we will show you how to make the best stock which will be sure to bring your risotto to life!

Firstly, here is a list of ingredients that you will need for four people:

  • 75g carnaroli or arborio risotto rice per person (300g in total)
  • 2 banana shallots
  • 200g wild mushrooms
  • 4 slices pancetta
  • 20g butter
  • 20g parmesan cheese (finely grated)

For the stock you will need:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 celery stick, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 50ml/7fl oz red wine
  • 2 Litres of boiled water
  • Pinch fennel seeds
  • 2 sprigs thyme, leaves only
  • 3 juniper berries, crushed
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf


For the Stock:

1) Add a little oil to a large stock pan and heat.

2) Add the chopped shallots and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the other vegetables and stir for a further couple of minutes. Add the red wine and heat to burn off the alcohol.

3)Add the bay leaves, juniper berries, whole black peppercorns and fennel seeds.  Stir for a couple of minutes.

4) Add enough boiling water to cover the vegetables and simmer for at least 1 hour (add water if necessary throughout).

For the Risotto (cook once the stock has simmered for at least 1 hour)

1) Add the butter to a frying pan an place onto a high heat.  Add the pancetta over a medium to high heat and cook until crisp. Once crisp, remove fro the pan and keep to one side.


3) Add the butter and shallot to the pancetta and cook gently until the shallots are soft but not coloured. Add the wild mushrooms and continue to cook.

wild mush

4) Add the rice and stir well for about three minutes, then add a splash of the wine and stir until the wine is absorbed and the alcohol has evaporated.

5) Add the stock, ladle by ladle, stirring all the time, and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the rice is cooked but still has a slight bite. When the rice is cooked, add the parmesan and leave aside to rest for 2-3 minutes.

6) Meanwhile, remove the partridge breasts from the oven and slice.

7) Place the risotto into four bowls. Top each with three slices of partridge, add more parmesan if desired and serve.

8) Hey Presto!  (the sharp eyed among you will notice that the below dish is a parmesan & pea risotto topped with pancetta – sorry, the pigeon risotto was gobbled up prior to photographing!)

risotto with bacon

Happy Cooking x

If you would like to enhance your skills and learn how to cook the perfect risotto under the eyes of an Italian expert, Seasoned Cookery School offer two fantastic Italian cookery classes, Italian I and Italian II taught by BBC Masterchef finalist, Sara Danesin MedioOr for more information on any of our day cookery courses at Catton Hall, please click here.