by Kyla Van Heerden

By Bibby’s Kitchen

The secret to a good risotto – besides good ingredients – is stirring. It’s really that simple. Risotto is needy, requiring a fully focused cook and 30 minutes. Bear in mind that the first course, Primo, is considered a starter, so portion sizes should lean more towards conservative than ample.

Serves 6


  • 30ml olive oil
  • 30ml butter, divided
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 2.5ml coarsely ground black pepper
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme,
  • leaves picked
  • 200g arborio rice
  • 100ml white wine (Chenin Blanc)
  • 1 litre hot chicken stock
  • 55g parmesan, finely grated
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • grated pecorino, to serve
  • fine salt, to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil, to serve


  1. Heat 30ml olive oil and 15ml butter in a deep saucepan. Add the shallot and cook over a low heat until softened but still pale, 5-7 minutes.
  2. Stir in the pepper and lemon zest, and sizzle until the oil smells fragrant, just a minute or so.
  3. Add the thyme and rice. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Once the rice smells nutty and sounds almost ‘glassy’ against the pan, deglaze with the wine and reduce by half.
  4. Keep the stock warm by placing it in a saucepan over medium heat.
  5. Ladle in the stock gradually, stirring all the while. The stock should be fully absorbed before adding the next ladle.
  6. Cooking times will vary between 22-25 minutes. Check that the rice is al dente and the consistency creamy.
  7. Remove from the heat and rest for 2 minutes with the lid on.
  8. Stir in the parmesan, lemon juice and the remaining butter. Season to taste. At this point, you may want to loosen the risotto by adding a little hot water.
  9. Divide the risotto between six shallow bowls. Serve with grated pecorino and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

INTERESTING FACT: Cacio e pepe, Rome’s famed pasta dish, epitomizes simple cooking – spaghetti, pecorino Romano and black pepper. 

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