The MasterChef death dish – a dish responsible for sending so many people packing that no-one was prepared to try during our season – although one hopeful tried during the auditions, and ended up coming unstuck. The problem of course is that there is so much variation in what people think makes a good risotto, but like anything, if you make it the way you like it, then who really cares.

Risotto is a beautiful dish, and one that is infinitely flexible with what you can add to it. It’s a dish that can’t (and shouldn’t) be rushed, but embrace that. It needs about a cup of white wine, so open a nice bottle and enjoy a glass (or two) while you stir the pot, and enjoy.

Serves: 4


  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 leek, finely diced
  • 3 tab extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 150g Swiss brown mushroom, sliced
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
  • 60g butter
  • 250ml dry white wine*
  • 1L vegetable stock
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 60g butter to finish


1.     Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan, and sauté the onion and leek with a pinch of salt over medium heat for about 5 minutes until soft and translucent.

2.     At the same time, bring the vegetable stock to a simmer in another saucepan.

3.     Add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

4.     Add the butter and mushrooms, and cook for 2-3 minutes.

5.     Add the rice and increase the heat, stirring well to make sure the rice is evenly toasted.

6.     Deglaze the pan with the white wine, and cook, stirring well, until most of the wine has been absorbed, and reduce the heat to low.

7.     Add the stock about 1 cup at a time, and stir until most of the liquid has absorbed before adding the next cup. Stirring is an important step to good risotto – it helps to bring the starch out of the rice and create the creamy texture of the final dish.

8.     It will take about 30 minutes of cooking time for the rice to be cooked – it should be al dente, maintaining just the slightest resistance to biting.

9.     Stir in the lemon juice, parmesan cheese and butter until well combined, and add a little extra stock if required.

10.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.


* Dry white wines such as Riesling, un-oaked Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc or a Semillon Sauvignon Blanc (SSB) blend are all good.