How to make a perfect risotto

Last week I ate a risotto that had been cooked for me by Renato Piccolotto.  This was truly a momentous occasion as Renato is the head chef at the Hotel Cipriani in Venice, the most famous place to enjoy risotto in the city that literally put risotto on the map.  He has cooked risotto for George Clooney and Angelina Jolie and now Renato has cooked risotto for me.

Renato Piccolotto the risotto maestro

Orient Express invited me to a special dinner and cooking class at the Queen Victoria Market to sample Renato’s delicious risotto, and even better to discover the secret as to how he makes it.  The thing Renato swears by is using carnaroli rice.  Arborio, which I have been using all these years, is not good enough according to Renato and carnaroli rice is key, preferably the Riseria Gazzani brand which is from Verona.  It is $15 in Australia in specialty food stores and a bargain £4.79 in the UK online from Melton and Appleton.

Canraroli rice is key to a good risotto

Renato Piccolotto’s risotto primavera 
200g carnaroli rice
2 litres of beef and chicken stock (use vegetable stock if cooking for vegetarians)
100g green asparagus, diced
1 artichoke, diced
50g fresh peas
30g peeled tomatoes, diced
5g capsicum, diced
50g parmesan cheese, grated
1 onion, diced
150g zucchini, diced
1 stalk of white celery, diced
4 zucchini flowers
100g french beans, diced
100g butter

The sautéed vegetables

1.  Heat a quarter of the butter with half the onion and sauté all the vegetables (apart from the zucchini flowers) to bring out the colour.

2.  In another pan heat a quarter of the butter and brown the rest of the onion until tender.  Stir in the rice and cook until it is translucent, stirring all the time.

3.  Add a little of the stock and cook rapidly until it is absorbed, then add a little more and repeat the process, stirring frequently.

Adding in the butter and parmesan at the end (this was a risotto for 12 people so there is a lot more butter than is called for in the recipe for four).  

4.  After then minutes add the sautéed vegetables, then cook for a further ten minutes or until the rice is cooked and the stock is absorbed.  The mixture should not be dry.

5.  At the last minute add the zucchini blossom, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

6.  Beat in the remaining butter and parmesan and season to taste.

The finished risotto primavera 

Serves four.

Gourmet Chick attended a complimentary cooking class thanks to Orient Express.


  1. Looks delish, I’ll definitely be trying it!

  2. I love how loose Venetian risottos are. Beautiful!

  3. Good to know I have been following this method since the mid 90s… then again a former Cipriani chef showed me the light. Keep stirring keep stirring

  4. After a year of eating and cooking only Indian food, I’m ready for some great Italian food. Thank you very much for this. I am going to try the recipe and source some carnaroli rice.

    I’m looking very forward to trying it.

  5. Oh wow!! I want him to cook for me too.. Actually I just want to be with George, Brad and Angelina.. ahahahha

  6. Vicky – Let me know how it goes, you can probably use home grown zucchini flowers you lucky thing.

    Tori – Yes it was really interesting to see how loose it was and that the rice did still have a certain bite to it. Delicious.

    Gregory – I am late to the carnaroli party it seems.

    Dan – Good luck – let me know how it goes

    MsIHua – Yes the only disappointment of the night was the absence of George, Brad and Angelina

  7. looks incredible, I’m not a fan of vegetables, but love love risotto so Ill definitely give this a go!

  8. Wow! This dish looks so lovely and I can’t imagine how it tastes. I must cook it for me. Thanks for your post. It is useful for me.

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