Feb 10, 2010

Risotto mantecato recipe

Il riso nasce nell’acqua e muore nel vino.
(Rice is born in water and must die in wine.)
~Italian Proverb

Italians have been growing rice for a very long time, and have developed many ways of preparing it. The best known is certainly risotto, which is a delicious and delicate alternative to pasta. It’s also much easier to prepare than people think, and is extraordinarily versatile. Making a good risotto is much like riding a bicycle: it takes a little bit of practice to begin with, and a certain amount of concentration after that. Risotto is mainly very sensitive to timing, and this is why what is served in a restaurant (no matter how good it may be) will rarely display that rich creamy texture and just-right doneness that a good homemade risotto will.

I love this delicate, sophisticated and yet simple risotto recipe. I like to dust this creamy delight with white truffle shavings, whenever season (and wallet) allows.

"Mantecato" means buttery, and this risotto certainly will be; it’s a celebration-day dish and will be just the thing for a very special occasion. Yields 4 plentiful servings.

500 g (2 1/2 cups or 6 large fistfuls*) Carnaroli or Arborio rice
100 g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
2 small scallions, very finely minced
1 glass dry white wine
100 g (1/2 cup) fontina cheese, finely sliced or diced
200 g (2 cups) freshly grated Parmigiano
1 liter (1 quart) simmering beef broth
50 g (1/4 cup) fresh white truffles (optional, brushed clean)

Sauté the scallion in half the butter until it begins to turn golden, then add the wine and cook over a low heat, until translucent and the wine has fully evaporated.

Add the rice, mix well, and then begin adding broth, a ladle at a time as it absorbs while cooking the grains, stirring gently all the while.

When the rice has almost completely reached the al dente stage, reduce the heat and stir in the remaining butter and the cheeses, cooking a minute or two more.

Shave half the truffles into the risotto using a truffle slicer and dot the surface with a few flecks of butter. Let the risotto rest covered for a minute, then stir briefly, transfer it to a fine bone china serving bowl, and shave the remaining truffles over it with a dramatic gesture to impress guests.

Image © Micol

* Empirical Formula | When cooking risotto, my grandmother would never weigh or measure the amount of rice needed with a scale or a cup. Her measurement was her fist capacity. One large, overflowing fistful per person plus one extra, was her rule. This purely experiential method worked for her then as it does for me today, and you may want to apply it yourself. In my risotto recipes I will however always include the standard cup equivalent as well. The usual average amount to cook per person is between 50 gr and 100 gr (1/4 to 1/2 cup), depending on how rich the other ingredients are, and guest appetite. But I sincerely trust Nonna's fail-safe system more.


  1. Mmmm, so luscious with the white truffles!

    And yes, the fist method, I like it too: one per person and one for the pot, adjusting a little if you know you have a very small or a very large hand.

    I like my risotto "all'onda", thick and creamy but liquid enough to pour from the pot without needing a spoon.

    Thanks for an inspiring post!

  2. Ah! Now you have given me something, unlike polenta, that I truly love! Nothing compares to a creamy taste of risotto done correctly!

  3. I love risotto and I love truffle. This is a divine combination! I can eat risotto every day! This looks wonderful. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  4. l only discovered l could cook rissotto well or at all last year...now l make it often....and its so easy and variable...

  5. Yes, with truffle shavings and a glass of pinot grigio. Salute!

  6. I'm still perfecting my risotto skills! Maybe if i stir while sipping wine? Lovely recipe with hints!

  7. mmmm...i bet that is amazing with truffle shavings...

  8. I love meals made with rice. Awesome pictures!

  9. Oh my goodness, I LOVE risotto LOVE LOVE LOVE it. Now this is a dish entirely worth the calories. I am sad I already ate dinner...tomorrow then! i can't wait.
    ♥ lori

  10. Ah, risotto is a favorite of mine and I'm looking forward to trying this recipe. I appreciate your inclusion of the "cup" measure ... fists are of such different sizes.

    Vi auguro una sincere congratulazioni per il tuo viaggio di lavoro nuovo! Godere di questa opportunità!

  11. I love cooking risotto and enjoy the 20 minutes or so spent stirring whilst leaning over the pot with its delicious smells. Before I began Weight Watchers (yesterday) this was something I made fairly regularly. However a small portion of rice now has to be precisely measured so I can count my WW points - I don't think I could have a small portion of this food of the gods


  12. You are one great temptress! :-)
    I made a similar risotto last weekend, to go with roastbeef. Unfortunately without truffles, but with eggplants and mushroom.

    Have you ever made risottowith farro?
    I love too make Sabrina's (La Liquirizia) recipe every nowand then:

    Happy Valentine's Day,

  13. Thank you all for the great response to this post. I knew risotto would stir your emotions...

    Thanks to Carmelina for pointing out that risotto like these MUST be served "all'onda" and that is contrary to what id depicted in the top image. Risotto should flow, like a tasty and comforting wave of pure bliss.

  14. Fantastic! I just wrote about risotto too! BTW where do you find Italian proverbs? I would love to absorb more Italianized quotes;)

  15. Having been raised Italian, proverbs are a given. For a free consultation on Italian quotes, proverbs, trivia about food, email me! :)

    Ele/Lola xx