Risotto With Peppers
Risotto, the staple of northern Italy, used never to be made with olive oil, the cooking fat of the south. The advantage of butter is that, when melted, it penetrates into the grains of the rice, which is what you want to happen, while oil makes a film around them. But some modern risotti are now made with a mixture of butter and oil, especially when oil is the ideal dressing for the accompanying ingredient, peppers in this case.
This is my adaptation of a traditional risotto from Voghera, a town in south-west Lombardy that is famous for its peppers.
|2||large peppers, preferably 1 yellow and 1 red|
|About 4 tbsp||extra virgin olive oil|
|2||garlic cloves, sliced|
|4 tbsp||chopped flat-leaf parsley|
|4||tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped|
|300g||Italian rice, preferably Arborio or Vialone Nano|
|4 pinches||of chilli powder|
|Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper|
|12||fresh basil leaves|
Wash and dry the peppers. Cut them into quarters and remove and discard the seeds, cores and white ribs. Cut them into thin strips about 2cm long. Set aside.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan heat the butter and 2 tbsp of the oil. Throw in the garlic and half the parsley and, when they begin to sizzle, add the strips of pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Mix, in the chopped tomatoes and continue cooking for a further 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan bring the stock to a simmer.
Add the rice to the soffritto - frying mixture - and cook, stirring the whole time, for a minute or two. Now begin to add the simmering stock gradually, a ladleful at a time. Wait to add each subsequent ladleful until the previous ‘ one has nearly all been absorbed.
When the rice is nearly done, season with the chilli powder and salt and pepper to taste. Draw the pan off the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tbsp of oil and the rest of the parsley. Transfer to a heated deep serving dish, sprinkle with the basil leaves and serve at once.