If you are into Italian food, you are probably quite familiar with risotto. The classic rich and creamy rice dish that originally comes from the northern part of Italy, is a regular at my home; and thanks to the almost unlimited variations it is always turning out different, but equally delicious!
Risotto Milanese is undoubtedly the most classic risotto recipe. In fact, legend has it, risotto was invented in Milan. The story goes that a young apprentice was ordered to a make a stained-glass window at the Cathedral of Milan. There he was made fun off by local people who credited the herb saffron he used for the beautiful colours in the window. The young apprentice, whose name was Valerio, became angry and as revenge added a huge amount of saffron to a rice dish made for his master’s wedding. Instead of ruining the celebration, the dish became a huge success with the guests raving about it and the recipe quickly turned into a local favourite.
For all fans of this beloved Italian dish the best thing about risotto is that it can be prepared to suit any taste. Whether you prepare it with vegetables, herbs, fish, meat, or even fruits, you will always end up with a delicious meal.
Risotto is also an often-misunderstood recipe, with many recipes claiming it needs to be stirred for the whole 15 to 20 minutes it is cooking to turn out right.
The great news is this is complete nonsense. Sure, you will need to stir the rice regularly but by no means do you need to do it continuously.
What is important to end up with a true Italian-style risotto, however, is to use the proper rice. That is, Italian rice like Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone Nano.
Inspired by another Italian favourite, the classic melon and Parma ham summer starter, this Melon and Parma ham risotto incorporates the delicious flavours of slightly sweet, fruity ripe melon and the distinguished delicate flavour of sweet, salty, and succulent Parma ham.
It works well both as a starter or main course.
Recipe: Melon and Parma Ham Risotto
150 g Italian risotto rice
5 thin slices of Parma ham
150 ml white wine
3 tablespoons olive oil
400 ml vegetarian broth
50 g parmesan
½ tablespoon butter
Heat the broth over medium heat, then set aside.
In the meantime, cut the pulp of ¼ melon into small cubes. Marinate with 50 ml white wine.
Tear the ham into small pieces.
Peel and finely chop the onion.
In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and fry gently until glassy. Add the risotto and fry until the rice starts to turn glassy too (approximately another minute).
Add 100 ml of white wine and let it reduce while occasionally stirring. Once the white wine has cooked nearly completely into the rice, start adding the first ladle of hot vegetable broth. Turn down the heat to a simmer and stir the rice occasionally.
Once the broth is nearly absorbed, keep adding another ladle until the rice is soft but still has a slight bite. This will take about 15 minutes. Stop adding broth.
Add the melon and ham and continue the simmer until the broth still in the saucepan has nearly absorbed into the rice.
Take from the heat, add finely grated parmesan and the butter, and stir gently to combine. Season with some pepper.
Let me know how you liked the combination of melon and Parma ham worked into the risotto.