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I am feeling reflective about risotto today.  I was going to ponder upon Other Matters, but sadly I have been diverted into critiquing my method of attempting to create dinner out of arborio rice.

It’s such a disappointing dish. And it’s not for lack of trying. And in restaurants it’s lovely, but then I rarely order it, because I think ‘Ooh, I can make that at home’, so promptly plump for something wildly complicated requiring masses of washing up instead.

Jamie Oliver risotto

I’m honestly not sulking. But there’s no way mine looks anything like this (Jamie’s grilled mushroom risotto, just in case you were wondering).

Jamie, Nigel, Hugh, even dear Delia, no matter what recipe I try I simply can’t get it right.  Anna del Conte would despair. The only way I can get anything like Restaurant Risotto is to bake it in the oven. And that defeats the whole point of the ‘standing and stirring and talking to friends whilst drinking a glass of vino blanco’ which is what Nigella seems to do.

Mind you, if I based all my cooking on Nigella I’d never leave the house. Purely because I’d never be able to get out of the door. That’s assuming I could fight past the camera crew whilst wearing my dressing gown and eating a slice of chocolate cake which just happens to be in the fridge at midnight.

Perhaps I’m just not cut out for sociable cooking. Yet all the evidence proves otherwise. Friends are quite used to coming to dinner and being given a job to do, or sitting drinking tea whilst I jar chutney or roll out scones. So why, dear reader, do I struggle so with risotto?

Mayhap I need to increase the Italianness in the house. Start learning phrases above and beyond ‘Prego’ and brandishing my pepper grinder like a dangerous weapon. But that way lies madness, for surely I will then have to adapt to whatever culture I am cooking from at any given time. And I don’t know about you, but my Swedish isn’t too hot for when it comes to meatballs.

We had risotto last night. I dished it up and then apologised to Le Pomme as I put it in front of him. There was nothing wrong with any of the ingredients – indeed, I’d made the stock and roasted the chicken myself, although I draw the line at growing mushrooms – yet the whole had, as ever, turned into a homogenous car crash of a dish. I tell you, if Monica could see me, I wouldn’t be going through to cook for Michel in the next round of Masterchef.

I’ve tried stirring, not stirring, hot stock, cold stock. Not leaving it on the hob so long, or conversely overcooking it.

What are your top tips for risotto? Help me out of this culinary black hole! Share your ideas and tips below and I’ll be eternally grateful.

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