Risi e Bisi (Risotto with Peas)

Risi e Bisi


While attending a cooking class in Bergamo, Italy, I will never forget what the chef said about the making of this northern Italian dish. “Making a great risotto,” he said in his best attempt at English and heavy Italian accent, “is rather like making love, it takes a slow loving hand, a bit of skill and – timing is everything.”

The key to a well-made risotto is both the grain you choose and the technique.

You need a short-grain variety such as Arborio because a long-grain will stay separated and the results will not be that creamy, velvety texture that all delicious risotti are known for.

Adding the broth s l o w l y, allowing the grains to absorb the liquid,  is the other necessary step to creating the perfect dish every time.

Once you’ve mastered the basic risotto, you can create your own version by changing the type of broth, flavorings and/or vegetables.


  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons butter, plus 2 Tablespoons
  • 2/3 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups chicken broth, boiling
  • 1 cup frozen frozen green peas
  • 4-6 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, add onion and celery and saute over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.
  2. Add rice stirring to coat each and every little grain (seriously). The rice becomes transparent after a few minutes.
  3. Pour in the wine and 1/2 cup of the boiling broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cook over medium-high heat uncovered a few minutes (until all the liquid has been absorbed).
    Remember to constantly stir the risotto.
  4. Add the second 1/2 cup of broth, cook until almost completely absorbed. You are still stirring, right?
  5. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time. Continue stirring, absorbing, you’ve got the hang of it now. With the last cup of broth add the  frozen peas. Stir until the rice has soaked in all the liquid.
    Remove from heat, stir in the Parmesan cheese and the 2 tablespoons of butter.
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