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There is a move towards a healthier lifestyle and that clearly involves diet. Less red meat is being eaten and this is not only good for the body but has benefits for the environment as well.  However, to cut out red meat altogether is not necessarily the best way forward. Many livelihoods rely on cattle farming and many landscapes around the globe are shaped by agricultural practices.


As chefs we can promote the idea of using less red meat in our dishes not just by offering vegetarian meals, but by treating the meat on a dish as garnish and making vegetables the  star of the show.


Risotto is a good example of what we can do. With a basic risotto recipe you can add anything to enhance it. Lardons of bacon, stir fry beef, shredded chicken and even fish and shell fish. The vegetable element of risotto is equally adaptable and should be seasonal.  Asparagus in spring, peas in summer, mushrooms in autumn and pumpkin in winter are good examples.

Flavour combinations are also endless. Red wine instead of white wine would go with a beef dish, tomato paste into the vegetable stock will give the rice depth of colour and a great flavour pairing with either chicken or prawns. Spices can be added either at the beginning or the end and lots of freshly chopped herbs are always welcome.


Here is a basic recipe with some tips followed by some ideas for flavours and added ingredients...

Risotto (serves 4)

  • 2 peeled and finely chopped shallots
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 10ml rapeseed oil
  • 400g arborio rice
  • 100ml white wine
  • 1200ml vegetable stock
  • 30g parmesan


  • Gently fry the shallots and garlic in the oil until soft but with no colour
  • Add the rice and then stir for 1 minute
  • Pour in the wine and reduce to a syrup with out stirring
  • Start adding the hot stock a ladle at a time adjusting the heat to keep the risotto simmering
  • Continue adding stock and stirring for 20 mintues
  • When cooked the grains should be tender, neither gritty nor soggy.
  • Remove from the heat adjust, the seasoning and stir in the parmesan.


Fry off certain ingredients such as mushrooms or bacon at the beginning to get the flavour into the rice. Add more delicate ingredients such as prawns or peas at the end as they will break up as the rice is stirred. The ratio is always 1 part rice to 3 parts stock what ever liquid is used. The liquid should be added little by little as it is drawn up into the rice. Stirring is important but this should not be continuous just often as the starch could be knocked out of the rice and the result will be more like porridge. Risotto should be served straight away as it does not reheat very well and a good risotto should ‘ooze’ on the plate.


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