Risotto with Lemon (Risotto al Limone)

Risotto with Lemon (Risotto al Limone)

For this excellent recipe I am indebted to Romana Bosco, a talented cook who runs a cookery school in Turin. She, for her part, owes it to Giovanni Goria, a member of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina. The first time I made it, my husband looked very dubious at the idea of a risotto with lemon. He thought it sounded ‘rather white and insipid’. From the first mouthful, however, he was a convert, and later declared it his favourite risotto. It is indeed delicious: creamy and yet so light.

For how many? Serves 3-4


  • 60 g (2 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, very finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, very finely chopped
  • 300 g (10 oz) Italian rice, such as Arborio
  • 1 litre (1 3/4 pints) light meat stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 organic lemon
  • 5 or 6 fresh sage leaves
  • a small sprig of rosemary
  • 1 free-range egg yolk
  • 4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
  • 4 tbsp double cream
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Heat half the butter, the oil, the shallots and the celery in a heavy saucepan and cook until the soffritto of shallot and celery is done (about 7 minutes). Mix in the rice and continue cooking and stirring until the rice is well coated in the fats and partly translucent. Meanwhile heat the stock and keep it simmering all through the preparation of the dish.

When the rice becomes shiny and partly translucent, pour in about 150 ml (1/4 pint) of the stock. Stir very thoroughly and cook until the rice has absorbed most of the stock. Add another small ladleful of simmering stock, and continue in this manner until the rice is ready. You may not need all the stock. Good-quality Italian rice for risotto takes about 20 minutes to cook.

While the rice is cooking chop up together the rind of half the lemon and the herbs, and mix them into the rice halfway though the cooking. 

In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk, the juice of half the lemon, the Parmesan, cream and a very generous grinding of black pepper. Mix well with a fork.

When the risotto is al dente draw the pan off the heat and stir in the egg and cream mixture and the remaining butter. Cover the pan and leave to rest for 2 minutes or so. Then give the risotto an energetic stir, transfer to a heated dish or bowl and serve at once, with more grated Parmesan in a little bowl if you wish.

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