Risotto all’Isolana


Risotto doesn’t happen nearly often enough in our household.  I don’t know why – maybe it’s the fact that it does take a bit of effort in the stirring, or that we never have quite the right things to go in it. And you know what, it also doesn’t photograph very well!

I was flicking through some cookbooks over the weekend looking for menu inspiration when I spotted risotto all’isolana in Antonio Carluccio’s Complete Italian Food*. As this is a risotto with meat in it it won instant approval from Andy.

Carluccio specifies luganiga sausage (which you peel and then crumble the sausage filling) which wasn’t immediately to hand. However, I saw no reason to be put off. After all, sausage is just pork and some flavourings – so as a substitute I used pork mince and … um, some flavourings.

The following made enough for two people for dinner, with seconds.

Begin by dicing an onion and gently frying it off in some olive oil and unsalted butter. Add a finely chopped clove of garlic and 150gm of pork mince. Keep the temperature reasonably high so that the pork doesn’t end up stewing. To fake luganiga I used some oregano, cinnamon, allspice and ground coriander. The cinnamon, allspice and coriander were all about ¼ tsp, and there was slightly more oregano. As always, there’s no substitute for tasting as you go.

Once happy with the pork and onion mix, add 200g of risotto rice (I used Arborio) and when the rice is well coated in the oil/onion/pork mix and starts to go transparent start adding hot stock. I heated up about 500mL and used all of that plus some extra hot water. Add the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring between additions and ensuring the stock is all absorbed before adding more.

Keep adding stock and stirring until the rice is cooked and the risotto is at the consistency you like. Finish the risotto by stirring through another 50g (or so) of unsalted butter and plenty of grated parmesan.

Serve at once.

It’s not the prettiest dish you’ll ever make but it’s proper winter comfort food: hot, simple and filling.

* Also available from Amazon US, Amazon UK or internationally through The Book Depository.

3 thoughts on “Risotto all’Isolana

  1. This is my all time favourite risotto recipe, although your method is a little different. The original is from Antonio’s mid-90s “Italian Feast” series and book. That version yields a drier, less risotto-y texture because the stock is added all at once and not stirred. He also uses vialone nano rice which works better than arborio.

    Funnily enough, a clip of this very dish was repeated on a cookery show here in the UK just the other day. I’ve uploaded it to YouTube if you’re interested. Done this way isn’t to everyone’s taste but is the most authentic.

    1. Interesting about the different cooking method. In Complete Italian Food Carluccio specifies vialone nano or arborio and says to prepare the risotto in “the usual way”.

      Given I had to be creative with my luganiga substitute I daresay my finished dish didn’t approach authentic!

      1. Those pesky Italians. I suspect there’d be a different “authentic” method every time you asked. ;o)

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