Creamy, hearty and wholesome. Risotto, with its rich flavours and melted cheeses, is the essential mid-week warmer.
Though awesome in all its original glory, it's the risotto's versatility that really makes this dish something special. Whether you love a seafood version like Macchiato's risotto alla marinara, a rich meaty spin like Botticelli of Brighton's aromatic duck dish or a fresh veggie take like La Spaghettata's spinach and sundried tomatoes rendition, risotto is the velvety smooth dish to help you through to Friday.
Good things come to those who wait
It takes time and a lot of love to make a really good risotto. Stock is slowly added to the rice and gently cooked in, gradually creating that smooth, creamy sauce that we all know and love. You find all sorts of different risottos dotted around Italy, from one subbing in cuttlefish with their ink-sacs so it gets a luxurious black coat, or one packing in pumpkin, nutmeg and grated cheese.
It's the risotto alla Milanese that's the most popular variation though, made with beef stock, lard and cheese. The addition of saffron gives the dish a decadent finish, and not to mention its vibrant yellow hue.
The history of the risotto is directly tied to its main ingredient – the rice. First introduced to Italy during the Middle Ages, the climate was found to be suited to growing shorter-grained rice. During this time over in Milan, slow-cooking was a key method on the foodie scene. These two elements came together and the risotto was born.
Since this time, the risotto has kept close to its roots, with kitchens all over the world serving it up as it's meant to be. Risotto is not only a steaming plate of comfort, but also an Italian tradition at its finest.
They've got all sorts on offer over at Macchiato, but we love their Risotto Alla Marinara, where Arborio rice is met with prawns, mussels, squid, scallops, ground pepper and white wine. They've also got a vegetarian version too, with the Risotto AI Funghi subbing in garlic, parsley, pecorino cheese and truffle oil for a luxurious finish.
Putting fresh first, Botticelli of Brighton offers their time-honoured seafood speciality in style. Tossed in garlic and wine their crisp catch is stirred in slowly with an intense tomato based Napoli sauce. If you're not a seafood fan though, don't worry, their Duck & Porcini version is the one for you.
Vegetarians can get in on the risotto fun too, with La Spaghettata's veggie-friendly version. The Risotto Vegetaria strips the dish back to its basics and subs in a collection of seasonal vegetables – this meat-free take on the classic offers a refreshingly light twist.