Herb risotto

A lot of risotto gets consumed in the Jordison-Millar household. Chicken and spinach risotto, pea risotto, fennel risotto, herb risotto… Rarely a week goes by without at least one of these getting an outing – and, as the herb risotto is possibly one of the most delicious things that ever existed (well, just as long as you’re keen on tarragon and dill), this is what I’m going to write up.

I’ll also include a recipe for risotto patties at the end, this being a handy standby for any leftovers. Normally I’m not really into leftover food, but risotto patties are so good that I quite often make double portions of rice, just so we can have them the next day. (Oh, the melting mozzarella… yum!)

Anyway, a couple of final notes: (1) don’t worry if you can’t get hold of chervil or lovage. They are definitely worthwhile additions (and super easy to grow) – but I often just make this with a combo of oregano/thyme and tarragon/dill; (2) don’t be tempted to use parsley or sage. They are too strong-tasting and will totally bugger up the resulting meal.

(If you’re looking for something more substantial, this particular risotto pairs well with tomatoes: so, a chicken or rabbit Ligurian stew if you’re a meat eater; aubergine involtini if you’re veggie. I can post recipes in the comments section if anyone’s interested.)


2 shallots or half a medium onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
250g/8 oz risotto rice
Good glass of dry white wine
1 1/2 pints or so of chicken stock, heated*
2 good tablespoons (or however much you fancy, really) of chopped, robust herbs, such as lovage, thyme, or oregano
Pinch of saffron threads (to be added to the stock)
2 good tablespoons (I generally use more) of chopped, delicate herbs, such as tarragon, chervil, or dill
2 oz grated Parmesan or Pecorino
Salt and pepper

*I can’t be precise with the amount of stock you’ll need, as it will depend on your rice.


Cook the shallots or onion in the oil for 3 minutes; then, add the garlic and cook for another minute. Put the rice in the pan, stir until it’s coated, then throw in the robust herbs. After another stir around, pop in the glass of wine; then stir again until it’s been absorbed.

After this comes the stock (infused with the saffron) – which you need to add, ladleful by ladleful, to the rice, stirring each time until the liquid has been absorbed. It will probably take around ten to fifteen minutes, and a fair few ladles of stock, before the rice is tender. Just keep checking as you go.

Finally, when the rice is cooked, stir in the tender herbs, the Parmesan or Pecorino, and season to taste. You then need to serve this immediately – risotto isn’t something to be eaten tepid (and congealed).

RISOTTO PATTIES: Assuming that you don’t want to kill yourself with rice poisoning, after you’ve finished your supper stash the rest of the risotto in the fridge. The next day, add to this an egg (or two, depending on how much risotto you’ve got on your hands), squidging it around until it’s properly mixed. Then, chop up either a mozzarella or a piece of tallegio into squares; cupping around a tablespoon of the rice mixture in your hands, pop a cheese cube into the middle of this, then add another spoonful of the rice mixture so that you have a ball (cheese hidden in the middle). These ‘balls’ need then to be placed in a pan of hot oil and butter, and fried gently, turning every now and then, until the cheese is melted and the rice is good and hot. (You might also squash down the rice balls a bit once they’re in the pan, so they become a bit more ‘pattie’-like.) And that’s it – serve with salad – delicious.

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9 Responses to Herb risotto

  1. Bronwen says:

    I cooked this (well, a bastardized version based on what herbs they had in the shop). It was really delicious, but my brother kept complaining that I hadn’t cooked the rice enough. Now, who can explain to me the difference between al dente, raw and soggy? I just think I’m too impatient.

  2. Fay says:

    Having been cooked this by Elly (more than once) I can confirm that it is truly delicious. In fact, I seem to remember having Sam and Elly round for dinner back in the days Sam when wouldn’t eat meat in England and Elly was told not to eat vegetables or cow dairy products and this was about the only thing I could cook them (with percorino)!

  3. ellymillar says:

    Bron – I think you just need to keep tasting throughout, and stop with the texture you like… What herbs did you use?

    And Fay – aw! Thank you! It has been a household staple for many, many (possibly a zilion) years. (I can remember cooking you this one afternoon in Oxford, circa 2005…).

  4. Luke says:

    @ Bron – key thing in risotto making is to keep the pan hot. If you have the heat too low, you can stand there for 30 mins and the rice won’t be cooked through.

  5. Bronwen says:

    Thanks guys. I actually thought my consistency was OK, but I had complaints. It was the FIRST time I’ve cooked risotto so thank you for such a tasty introduction.

  6. Trishan Panch says:

    I love the blog and the recipe but the prob is that to my chilli fired palate risotto just tastes a bit damp. This sounds like it could be much interesting though so will check it out.

  7. ellymillar says:

    Hey Trish – re. chilli – Sam will tell you that I’m a chilli fiend (to the extent that I’ve just received a £40 box of different chillies and salsas through the post…). But the good thing about this risotto is that the herbs are quite punchy – so you get the lovely comforting feel of the rice but a good bit of flavour, too…

    But anyway; I have a very nice beef chilli recipe (you make it with chipotles) which I’ll post soon.

  8. Will says:

    did this last night Elly – very tasty, nice and light but with a lot of flavour.

  9. ellymillar says:

    Hey Will – great, delighted you like it; it’s one of our favourites here…

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