Basic Venetian risotto

Basic Venetian risotto

Risotto base a la Velenziana

Helen Cathcart

After having watched the brilliant Mirko, the risotto chef at Da Romano restaurant on the island of Burano, here are our rules to make the perfect Venetian risotto.

A risotto is only as good as the stock you make it with. Use a homemade stock from trimmings that you would normally discard. Have your heated stock ready by your risotto pan with a ladle to hand. If you have just made the stock and don’t want to strain it yet as you want to keep the rest cooking after using some, push a sieve into the pot to strain it and scoop ladlefuls from inside the sieve.

Have everything you need ready and within reach, so that you don’t have to leave your risotto unattended while you find the cheese from the back of the fridge or find you have run out of wine.


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
50g butter
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
fine salt
300g vialone nano or other risotto rice
100ml white wine
1.2 litres Vegetable stock, warm
or 1.2 litres Rita's chicken stock, warm
50g parmesan, finely grated
200g leeks, finely sliced
or 200g spring onions, finely sliced
or 200g shallots, finely sliced
black pepper, freshly ground
or long pepper, freshly ground
or szechuan pepper, freshly ground


  1. In a large saucepan heat the oil and half the butter; the oil helps to stop the butter burning. When the butter has melted soften the leeks and celery with salt and pepper over a low heat for around 10 minutes.
  2. If you are making a risotto with other ingredients that need to be cooked, such as peas or mushrooms, add these at the same as the leeks or onions, but if you are adding ingredients that don’t want to be overcooked, such as fish, put these in towards the end.
  3. Add the rice to the pan and allow it to ‘toast’ for around 3–5 minutes, stirring constantly, until all the grains are covered in the butter and oil.
  4. Pour in the wine and allow to reduce for 2–3 minutes or until the strong smell of alcohol dissipates.
  5. Ladle in around 500 ml of the hot stock and mix quickly into the rice. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon and when the risotto thickens to the point where you can see the bottom of the pan when you draw the spoon across the bottom add another ladleful of stock. Continue adding stock each time the risotto thickens back up.
  6. After about 20 minutes taste the risotto to see whether it is done. The rice grains should be just translucent through the grain. They should feel soft on the outside with a hint of firmness in the centre. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Remove the pan from the heat. Mirko cooks it all’onda, ‘like a wave’, leaving it slightly soupy as this liquid will continue to be absorbed over the following few minutes.
  7. Beat in the remaining butter and the Parmesan, this will make your risotto creamy. Mirko tosses his risotto out of the pan into the air above, like waves splashing against the side of the boat.
  8. Cover the pan and allow the risotto to rest for around 3–5 minutes. Serve in warmed shallow bowls.
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