Recipe: Joseph Vargetto’s Risotto alla Milanese

Category: Featured, The Essential Recipes

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Risotto is as popular a restaurant dish as it is a home-cooking staple. This exciting recipe, given to us by Melbourne cooking icon and multiple award winner Joe Vargetto, will ensure your next risotto is remembered long after the gold leaf has disappeared.


320g Carnaroli risotto rice
60g butter
2 pieces bone marrow
40g grated parmesan
1tsp saffron threads
1tbl onion, very finely chopped
1 garlic clove, in its jacket
100ml dry white wine
1ltr very light meat stock or chicken stock
20ml olive oil
1tbl acid butter (butter whisked in vinegar & white wine reduction)
150g butter
200g parmesan
1 gold leaf or gold flakes

1. In a heavy based saucepan melt the butter & sweat the shallots & garlic clove over medium heat until softened. Add the rice & marrow & allow the rice to toast slightly, stir & add the white wine. Reduce & add the saffron threads & heated stock, enough to just cover rice. Stir continuously.   Check the rice, adding stock as required. You will need to add less stock as the rice becomes cooked.

2. When the rice is cooked, i.e. holding its shape & each grain has good body (but not too crunchy) take off the heat & mount with 1 teaspoon of butter, acid butter, parmesan cheese & olive oil. Check & adjust seasoning if required.

3. Serve, draped with gold leaf.

About Joseph Vargetto

Joe VargettoJoseph Vargetto undertook his cooking apprenticeship at Melbourne’s iconic Florentino restaurant before heading to Europe to work in Italy’s only three Michelin star restaurant, Laberata. Here Joe immersed himself in French-influenced Italian cuisine and gained great insights into traditional and classical notions of Italian food.

Upon his return to Melbourne, Joseph took up the position of Second Chef to Philippe Mouchel at Langton’s. Joseph then became Head Chef at the Venetian Wine Bar & Restaurant in South Yarra, where he spent two very successful years. In December of 2002, Joseph made the move to Number 8, located on the riverside promenade at the Crown Complex. Joseph raised the bar once again, achieving great recognition for the restaurant in the form of a place in The Age Good Food Guide.  Quickly recognised for his ability to manage pressure and produce a consistently high standard of food, Joseph was promoted to the role of Executive Sous Chef in charge of overseeing fifteen different restaurants and more than two hundred and fifty chefs.

In addition to working with some of the world’s greatest chefs, Joseph has also won two significant culinary competitions. The first was the ‘Great Risotto Competition’ in 1999, in which Joseph competed against some of Melbourne’s best risotto cooks and was judged the winner by Antonio Carluccio & Gabrielle Feron. The second was the Bocuse D’or, which is considered one of the most prestigious cooking competitions in the world.

Back in Melbourne, Joseph made a name for himself as chef and co-owner of Oyster Little Bourke. After opening in 2006, Oyster quickly engaged a loyal following for its brasserie-like atmosphere and memorable food. Joseph’s generous and hospitable personality shone through, and his passion for true, honest flavours earned him much recognition from diners and critics alike. In 2009, Joseph said goodbye to Oyster and re-launched the well-known venue as Mezzo Bar & Grill, where he showcases Sicilian cuisine with the freshest of ingredients.

Joseph Vargetto is a regular presenter at The Essential Ingredient Cooking School.

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