All good food is comfort food but some rank higher in the list. And if it’s warm and soft and has ham and cheese in it… the points just go way up! When I first read the recipe, I concluded that I liked the name very much. Sounds just like ‘hot rice’ in Kannada! Risi e Bisi actually means rice and peas in Italian. It’s a classic Venetian risotto dish. Comforting for sure, but also simple to make. My version has sweet corn in addition to the peas, just because I think the sweet flavor complements the salty ham well. I use frozen peas in this dish. They are cheaper and are available year round. They also often have a better flavor than the fresh ones, as they are frozen at source immediately after being picked, which helps retain their sweet taste. I bought a kilo of very expensive risotto rice and am using it judiciously, but feel free to use Idly rice. (Apparently the final result is comparable). Don’t take my word for it… I just heard it from a little birdie. But I would love to hear from you, if the substitution worked in your favour. For a cold winter day – Risi e Bisi!
Risi e Bisi
Cooking time: 50 mins
What you need:
1 ½ cups Risotto rice
1.25 litre / 5 cups simmering Chicken stock
6 Tbsp Butter
1 small Onion, finely chopped
150 ml White wine
1 cup frozen Peas
1 cup Sweet Corn kernels
100 gms cooked ham, diced
50 gms Parmesan/ Grano Padano, grated
Salt and freshly ground Black pepper to taste
What to do:
Wash the rice, drain and keep aside. Melt 4 Tbsp of butter in a large heavy pan until foaming. Add the onion and cook gently for about 3 mins, stirring frequently, until softened. Have the hot stock ready in an adjacent pan. Add the rice to the onion mixture. Stir until the grains start to swell, then pour in the wine. Stir until the wine stops sizzling and most of it has been absorbed. Then pour in a little hot stock, with salt and pepper to taste. Add in the corn. Stir continuously on low heat, until all the stock has been absorbed.
Add the remaining stock a ladle at a time, allowing the rice to absorb all the liquid before adding in the next ladle. Add the peas after about 20 mins. Stir to mix well and cook for a further 5-7 mins. The risotto should be nice and creamy and cooked. (Some people like it al dente, I like to be a little more cooked, say 3-4 mins more).
Now, gently stir in the diced ham and the remaining butter. Heat through until the butter has melted. Stir in the grano padano. (Save some to grate on top). Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Transfer the risotto to a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately.