I can’t believe it myself that at age 66 this is the first time in my life I cooked a real risotto, and Michaella (my younger daughter stuck in South Africa during this lock-down period) and I enjoyed it very much next to the wood fire on a chilly winter’s night in Johannesburg. It comes from a region in Umbria, where an excellent quality Saffron has been grown for hundreds of years, and this recipe is the signature dish of a restaurant in the area ‘Bistrot del Duca’ in Citta della Pieve.

Gather your partner or whole family around you in the kitchen and sip glasses of white wine whilst stirring it, then enjoy the fragrant dish together with a simple green salad.


  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T salted butter, plus 1 T extra (chilled) to add before serving
  • 1 shallot, peeled & chopped
  • 320 g Arborio rice
  • 1.2 l hot vegetable stock (keep it hot over a low heat whilst stirring the risotto)
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads, toasted in a dry, non-stick pan for 60 seconds, then bashed to a powder between two small pieces of baking paper
  • 1 T grated Parmesan (for a dairy free option: use an Italian style goat’s cheese)
  • Fresh mint leaves to garnish


  1. Heat olive oil and butter in a large, deep frying pan or pot over medium heat until butter has melted
  2. Add the chopped shallot & fry until slightly browned, about 10 minutes
  3. Add the rice and stir continuously until coated well.
  4. Add a ladle of hot stock, then add the wine. Stir continuously until all the liquid has been absorbed. Add another ladle of hot stock und stir until absorbed.
  5. Add the saffron about 10 minutes after the first ladle of stock.
  6. Continue adding one ladle of stock at a time, stirring until it has been absorbed, until all the stock has been added.
  7. Remove from heat & fold in the chilled butter and Parmesan
  8. Set aside to rest for about 5 minutes, covered.
  9. Divide the risotto amongst 4 serving plates or bowls, garnish with the fresh mint leaves.
  10. Enjoy.

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