I know that sometimes people shy away from making risottos because they are seen as being too fiddly and a bit of hard work. I actually really like to make them and I feel that once you have mastered the basics of making a decent risotto it can be adapted to whatever you have in the fridge or store cupboard. There are only a few things you need to make a good risotto: onion, stock, risotto rice, Parmesan, and olive oil. A small amount of white wine is good too, but not critical.
Basic four person serving of risotto
1 onion, medium dice
2 cups of risotto rice (Arborio or Carnaroli are good options)
5-6 cups stock (chicken or vegetable are good)
1/4 cup wine
50-75 gm grated Parmesan
50 gm butter
Basic method for risotto
Heat the stock in a separate pan. In another, larger one saute your onions (or leeks or spring onions) in oil and half the butter. Then add your rice, let the grains get coated in the oil. Then add approximately a 1/4 cup of wine and let it evaporate. Then add the warm stock half a cupful at a time, allowing it to be absorbed by the rice before you add another cupful. Stir gently.
When the rice is cooked to your liking (al dente: with a little bite left in it is traditional) remove from heat and stir through rest of the butter and grated cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper - if you have used pre-made stock and a salty parmesan you might not need any additional salt. Serve in warmed wide bowls to slow the cooking process down.
Once you have mastered the basics of the risotto you can make any combination you like. You can add a variety of ingredients near the end of the cooking process eg: cooked chicken, spinach, cooked pumpkin, lemon juice and zest, salmon or white fish. The options are endless. From a basic risotto with chirozo and frozen peas, to something quite fancy-pants, like this champagne and leek risotto recently reviewed on Radio National. It turns out it is from Pipi - the cookbook by Alexandra Tylee (and would be lovely and easy dinner to make for other grown-ups). You could also try your hand at baked risotto's such as the pumpkin, pancetta and sage risotto.
Mummy to Three Small Boys