The Italians definitely know what they are about when it comes to comfort food and a big plate of deliciously creamy risotto is always welcome at this time of year. My recipe for Speck and Artichoke Risotto or risotto con carciofi e speck is super simple to prepare and full of classic Italian flavour.
Winter is definitely on the march around these parts, with the wind blowing a gale outside and the last leaves being shaken from the trees. I’m wrapped up warm and sitting much too close to the fire as I write these words – ideal risotto weather!
Is risotto difficult to make?
For some unknown reason, risotto has a bit of a bad reputation as being difficult to make. This couldn’t be further from the truth. If you can lift a pan and stir a spoon you can make risotto.
Risotto is all about the rice.
For perfectly textured, soft and creamy risotto you need to be using the right kind of rice. Risotto is made with short-grained arborio rice, named after the town of Arborio in Piedmont. The short grains are high in starch and cook up to be deliciously creamy and chewy.
Can I use other types of rice?
You can, but for best results stick to arborio rice. In saying that, I’ve had great results with sushi rice and German-style Milchreis – or the sort of rice you’d use to make rice pudding. These types of rice have one thing in common, they are all short-grain rice varieties, so if you are looking to substitute, be sure to use short-grain rice. Basmati or similar is not suitable.
Let’s talk about flavouring.
Risotto is a fabulously blank canvas when it comes to flavour. It is incredibly tasty just as it is, provided you’re using a good quality Parmesan style cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano, but it is over-the-top good when paired with some extra flavourings.
What is Speck?
Speck is a type of cured ham, similar to prosciutto. In this recipe, you can substitute it with prosciutto, pancetta, or even thinly sliced bacon. Anything sweet, salty and porky will do!
Aren’t artichokes a springtime vegetable?
They sure are. There is nothing quite like seeing a beautiful field of pale green artichokes after a cold, grey winter. In this recipe, I use whole artichoke hearts from the jar.
This is a great time saver as somebody has already done all the hard work of preparing the artichokes! If you happen to be lucky enough to have some fresh artichokes, you’ll need to boil them up and remove the fluffy ‘choke’ in the centre to make Speck and Artichoke Risotto.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I make risotto in advance?
While the purists (and most Italians) would say no, risotto can be reheated very well. If you have leftover risotto you can make arancini, or stuffed, breadcrumb coated and deep-fried rice balls – yum!
I don’t drink wine. Can I leave it out of this recipe?
Of course. I always like to replace wine with something a little acidic, so perhaps a teaspoon or two of vinegar dissolved in water, or some thinned out orange juice for flavour.
What can I use instead of speck?
Pancetta, prosciutto, bacon or smoked ham will all work in this recipe.
Can you reheat Risotto?
Yes! It is easy to reheat risotto and perfectly delicious. I use two different methods, on the stove top and in the oven.
Method 1 (Stovetop): Loosen the risotto with a few tablespoons of water and heat through, stirring occasionally over a low heat. This method produces a creamier risotto.
Method 2 (Oven): Transfer the risotto to an oven-proof dish, sprinkle over 2 tablespoons of water and cover tightly with foil. Bake in an oven at 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4 for 20-30 minutes until warmed through.
- 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
- 50g butter
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2 sprigs rosemary, leaves finely chopped
- 100g speck, pancetta or bacon
- 200g arborio rice
- 125ml dry white wine
- 320g jar of artichoke hearts in oil, drained and chopped
- 50g Parmesan, finely grated, plus extra for serving
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- PREPARE THE STOCK: Heat the stock in a saucepan until simmering then keep warm.
- SAUTÉ THE ONION: Melt half of the butter in a large frying pan and sauté the onion gently for 5-6 minutes until softened but not browned. Add the rosemary and speck then cook for a further 3 minutes.
- ADD THE RICE: Pour the rice into the pan and stir to coat in the butter for 2-3 minutes. Pour the wine into the pan, bring to a simmer and cook until the wine has evaporated.
- COOK THE RISOTTO: Add the stock to the pan, one ladleful at a time, stirring the rice until each ladleful has nearly evaporated. You don’t have to stand at the pan the whole time, just keep an eye on it and stir regularly. It will take 25-30 minutes for all the stock to be used up. Test a spoonful of rice and if it is cooked with a slight bite to it carry on with the recipe, otherwise add a splash of water and cook a further 5 minutes.
- ADD THE ARTICHOKE: Stir through the artichoke and cook until warmed through, then stir through the Parmesan and remaining butter.
- SERVE: Taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary, serve immediately on warmed plates with extra grated Parmesan.
WINE SUGGESTION: A light pinot gris or Italian Grillo will compliment the flavours in this risotto perfectly.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 bowl
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 792Total Fat: 49gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 28gCholesterol: 203mgSodium: 2294mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 5gSugar: 2gProtein: 52g
Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.
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