Here I’ve used a mixture of olive oil and butter to soften the onion. It’s not completely authentic, but it seems a good, healthy compromise between the oil and the proper creaminess of the butter.
Serves 2 as a main, 4 for starter
2 red peppers, deseeded and chopped into 1cm – 2cm chunks
3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 fresh mild red chilli, deseeded and sliced
1 small onion or shallot, peeled and diced
1 litre (2 pts) chicken or vegetable stock
125ml (4 fl.oz) white wine
200g (7 oz) Arborio or Carnaroli rice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon soft butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons grated fresh parmesan cheese
In a large saucepan, bring the stock to the simmer.
Melt the olive oil and butter in a smaller pan over a low heat. Add the onion. Stir gently until it looks glossy and translucent. Add the rice. Stir through the oil, butter and onion for about two minutes or so, then add the wine. Bubble hard until the rice has absorbed most of the liquor, then begin to add the stock.
This is the bit some people find scary. Trust me, it’s not. Add enough simmering stock to just cover the rice. Keep stirring it so it doesn’t stick. Keep adding the simmering stock as the rice absorbs it. As you get towards the end of the process (up to 20 minutes), add the stock in smaller quantities — you don’t want the final dish to be too wet.
Now for the peppers: as you’re cooking the rice, soften the garlic and chilli in olive oil in a sauté or frying pan over a low heat. As the garlic begins to take a little colour, add the peppers. Stir occasionally until the peppers are soft, hot, and have a lovely honey-brown hue. This may not take as long as the rice, in which case take the pan off the heat and set aside.
When the rice is cooked (it can take up to 20 minutes, until it’s nice and creamy and the grains still have a little bite to them), stir the peppers into it. Add the parmesan, black pepper and parsley and stir together. Then add salt to taste.
Finally, cover and rest the risotto for a few minutes — then serve.
If you fancy adding a little more colour to the dish, why not use a yellow pepper instead of one of the reds? It will be just as sweet and yummy, and it will give the risotto flashes of yellow-y gold.