Risotto Bolognese

Yet another dish that combines two of my favourite Italian meals, Nigella’s risotto bolognese is one of the most delicious meals I’ve made. Ever. It was so tasty and satisfying but being rice-based instead of pasta-based, it wasn’t too heavy (unless of course you had two serves which I wouldn’t blame you). This recipe is from Nigella Lawson’s latest book ‘Kitchen’ and if you are having a dinner party any time soon I thoroughly recommend it. I think it would freeze rather well too if you were to cook a big batch to have on hand for easy freezer take-out.

It does take a little time to make but it is well worth the effort for the mouth-watering end result. It’s not very low on calories unfortunately so I don’t recommend it as an every-day meal. Don’t worry though, my next experiment is creating a low-calorie version that rivals the original.

Blend them

To make the sauce, start by processing the onion, carrot, garlic, bacon, parsley, anchovies and celery into a fine mush. I’m not a fan of celery so I left it out and used two carrots instead. I also left out the anchovies but they’re optional anyway.

Mmm butter

I did warn you that it wasn’t calorie free. Next step – melt the butter and olive oil in the bottom of a deep, oven-proof, lidded pot.


When the butter has melted, add the mush from the processor and cook it for a few minutes until it’s all soft. Keep stirring so nothing sticks to the bottom.

Beef it up

Add the meat to the pan and break it up while it browns then add the Marsala. I didn’t have any Marsala so instead, substituted it with 80mL white wine with 1 1/2 tsp of brandy.


Process the crushed tomatoes until they are smooth then add them to the pot.

Oven time

Stir the tomato paste into the milk then add it to the pot along with 500mL stock and the bay leaves. The recipe says to use veal stock but as I didn’t have any, I used beef stock instead.

Stay there for 1 hour

Bring the mixture to the boil, put the lid on then transfer it to the oven and cook it for 1 hour.


Take the pot out of the oven and put it over low heat. Prepare the rest of the stock and keep it over low heat as well. Pour the rice into the sauce with one ladleful of stock. I did what seems to happen to me a lot. I didn’t check that I had rice until I got it out of the cupboard for this step. It turned out I only had 250g left so that’s all I used. The recipe fed 6-8 with just 250g of rice so I think if you were making the full recipe it would make 8 large helpings at the very least.


Keep stirring and scraping the bottom as the mixture thickens. Add the stock a little at a time as this happens. Test the rice to see if it’s cooked after about 18 minutes. Mine took about 20 minutes all together and I added about 1 cup of the stock to my 250g rice.

Say cheese

When the rice is cooked, turn off the heat and stir through the parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Risotto bolognese

Dish it out and serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan. Enjoy!

Risotto bolognese

Risotto bolognese

Yield: 6-8


  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 carrot, peeled and halved
  • 1 stick celery, halved (I left this out and added and extra carrot)
  • 1 small clove of garlic, peeled
  • handful of fresh parsley
  • 75g (3oz) rindless streaky bacon
  • 4 anchovy fillets (optional - I left them out)
  • 50g (1.8oz) butter
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 250g (9oz) minced beef
  • 80ml (1/3c) marsala (I substituted it with white wine and brandy)
  • 1 400g (14oz) can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree (I used tomato paste)
  • 2 tbsp full-fat milk
  • 2 L veal stock (separate into 500mL and 1.5L) I used beef stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 500g (18oz) risotto rice (I only used 250g/9oz)
  • 6 tbsp grated parmesan plus extra to serve
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 150C(302F) fan-forced. Put the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley, bacon and anchovy into a processor and whiz to a fine mush. I used my blender for this step.
  2. Heat the 50g butter and 1/2 tsp oil in a deep, heavy ovenproof casserole pot with a lid. Tip the blended mush into the pan and cook for about 5 minutes until softened.
  3. Add the meat and let it brown a little, breaking it up in the pan then add the marsala. Process the tomatoes until smooth then add to the meat.
  4. Stir the tomato puree into the milk and then add this to the pan along with 500mL of the stock and the two bay leaves.
  5. Bring the pot to the boil on the stove then put the lid on and transfer it to the oven for one hour.
  6. Once the meat sauce is out of the oven, take the bay leaves out and discard them.
  7. Heat the remaining 1.5L of stock in another saucepan and keep that warm on very low heat and put the meat sauce on very low heat next to it.
  8. Stir the rice into the meat sauce then add a ladleful of the hot stock. Stir until the rice and sauce becomes thick and then add another ladleful, stirring all the time. Check to see the rice is cooked after about 18 minutes. You might not need all the stock.
  9. When it's ready, turn off the heat and stir through the parmesan before seasoning to taste.
  10. Serve with an extra sprinkling of parmesan.



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