Risotto “Risi e Bisi”

This risotto recipe is a real hybrid.  Risotto has many variations according to regions, but there are a few things that they all have in common.  Rice is blistered in fat, wine added, then hot broth is gradually incorporated into the mix, all of which make for a creamy dish of rice which is not mushy, but still “al dente”.  In Milan, there is the addition of saffron.  In Venice fresh peas and rice cooked in a soupy mixture is called “Risi e Bisi”.  Butter or lard is used for the fat in some districts, chicken, beef, or vegetable stock in others.  I like to use chicken broth, and include saffron in several of my risotto variations.  Parmesan cheese added at the end is another constant.

An interesting combination in Italy is the addition of mint with fresh green peas.  So, I including mint in this risotto.  It goes well with saltimbocca alla romana. 

Any left-overs?  Risotto can be flattened out to cakes and pan friend for a great side dish.



4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
¼ teaspoon saffron
¼ cup white wine
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
3/4 cup English peas
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the chicken stock until very hot and keep in reserve.
In a deep saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium heat and cook the chopped onion until soft but not brown.
Add the garlic, the Arborio rice, and the saffron and stir to coat the rice with the oil until it is white.
When the rice seems dry and white, add the white wine (or white Vermouth)
Stir the ingredients with a wooden spoon and continue cooking until the wine is evaporated.
Begin adding the chicken broth about ½ cup at a time, stirring until the rice is dry.
Continue stirring with the wooden spoon and when the broth is absorbed, add more broth.
When there is still a bit of broth left, add the chopped parsley, the mint, the peas, and the Parmesan cheese. Stir.
Add the rest of the broth and stir.


It would be tedious to stand and stir this dish to completion, so busy yourself preparing the meal as you stir in the broth.

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