This tasty and simple risotto is the perfect dish to treat your friends and family. Simply infuse saffron strands in boiling water for 10 minutes, meanwhile frying the risotto rice in olive oil, adding spring onions and garlic after 2 or 3 minutes. Add white wine to the rice, letting it bubble for a few minutes, then add the saffron liquid, asparagus and hot stock, stirring until the rice is tender. Finally add grated parmesan and slices of Parma Ham to serve.

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Delicious Parma Ham is a completely natural food with nothing added except salt. Making a Parma Ham is a long and painstaking process. The curing is controlled carefully so that the ham absorbs only enough salt to preserve it to retain its distinctive sweet flavour.

Prosciutto di Parma is produced in the hills surrounding the Italian town of Parma. The air in the Parmesan hills is unique, dry and sweet-smelling with breezes from the Apennine mountains, creating perfect environmental conditions for a natural “drying” of the hams.

The unique taste of Parma Ham is dependent on the traditional production process passed down from Roman times, carefully controlled by the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma. Only hams that have passed stringent curing regulations approved by the EU can be awarded the stamp of the Ducal crown – a five pointed coronet logo with PARMA in the centre which is branded onto the ham’s skin. The Ducal Crown is now a certification trademark.

Saffron Risotto with Parma Ham, Asparagus and Parmesan
Serves 4

Generous pinch of saffron strands
2 tbsp olive oil
350g (12oz) risotto rice
1 bunch spring onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
150ml (1/4pt) Italian dry white wine
150g (6oz) fine asparagus or fine green beans, sliced
1 litre (1 3/4pt) hot vegetable stock
6 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
8 slices Parma Ham, torn in half
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

• Put the saffron strands into a measuring jug and add 150ml (1/4 pt) boiling water. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes
• Heat the olive oil in a large deep frying pan or saucepan. Add the rice and cook over a low heat for 2 or 3 minutes, stirring all the time until it looks translucent, but not brown. Add the spring onions and garlic. Cook gently for another minute, stirring frequently
• Pour in the white wine and let it bubble up for a few moments. Add the saffron and its soaking liquid, the asparagus or green beans and a couple of ladlefuls of hot stock. Stir well, then cook over a medium heat for 20-25 minutes, gradually adding the remaining stock a ladleful at a time, until the rice is tender
• Add the grated Parmesan and Parma Ham, stirring them through. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then serve

Cook’s tip: For best results, use Italian arborio or carnaroli rice for a deliciously creamy result.