When you dip your fork into this risotto, you will come across pockets of melting mozzarella. Mix in the tomato topping and you will make more strings. Try to use mozzarella di bufala – it has a fresh, lactic bite well-suited to this recipe.
1.5 litres (3/4 pints) hot vegetable stock or chicken stock
125g (41/2oz) unsalted butter
1 onion, finely chopped
400g (14oz) risotto rice
150ml (1/4 pint) dry white wine
250g (9oz) mozzarella cut into 1cm (1⁄2in) cubes
4 tbsp chopped fresh basil
300g (10oz) sun-blushed tomatoes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra basil leaves and freshly grated parmesan, to serve
Put the stock in a saucepan and keep at a gentle simmer. Melt half the butter in a large, heavy saucepan and add the onion. Cook gently for 10 minutes until soft, golden and translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir until well coated with the butter and heated through. Pour in the wine and boil hard until it has reduced and almost disappeared. This will remove the taste of raw alcohol.
Begin adding the stock, a large ladleful at a time, stirring gently until each ladle has almost been absorbed by the rice. The risotto should be kept at a bare simmer throughout cooking, so don’t let the rice dry out – add more stock as necessary. Continue until the rice is tender and creamy, but the grains still firm. (This should take 15–20 minutes depending on the type of rice used.)
Taste and season well with salt and pepper and beat in the remaining butter. You may like to add a little more hot stock at this stage to loosen the risotto. Fold in the cubed mozzarella and chopped basil. Cover and let rest for a couple of minutes so the risotto can relax and the cheese melt.
Carefully ladle into warm bowls and put a pile of tomatoes in the centre of each one. Top with basil leaves and serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan.
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