ridiculously easy risotto!
May 22, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I have a theory about risotto which I’m going to share with you, and it’s that people are far more afraid of it than they should be. All this jibber jabber on cookery programmes about ‘The Perfect Risotto’, as if it’s some elusive secret thing that if you don’t get right the sky will fall in… while really, unless you’re expecting the risotto police [or Gordon Ramsay] round for dinner, risotto is a very forgiving and simple thing to make. Risotto purists would probably lambast me for using arborio rice instead of the traditional carnaroli, and indeed serving this as a main course instead of a starter… but hey… that’s a risk I’m willing to take
Once you have the base, there are loads of ingredients that will happily make themselves at home amongst the creamy ricey goodness. My favourite would be chicken and mushroom, but husband wanted to incorporate smoked pancetta into todays dinner in any way he could so I tweaked my usual asparagus and pea risotto, and here’s what I did…..
The first thing I did was get all the dry ingredients ready. So I chopped up a handful of asparagus into inch-long chunks, fried off some smoked pancetta until it was crispy, finely chopped two big cloves of garlic, rinsed two cups of frozen peas in cold water to defrost ‘em, finely diced one large onion, measured out around a cup and a half of arborio rice, and grated a few tablespoons each of extra mature cheddar, and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Phew! But now that that’s all done, all that’s left in the way of preparation, is to get your veg and stock and wine ready. For the stock, I’d usually use my own home made chicken stock, but the last batch I used up in a tagine. So this time I used an organic salt-free stock cube dissolved in just over a pint of water. The only difference is the concentration of flavour really. If you want to keep your risotto veggie, then just use a good vegetable stock.
To prepare the veg, I add them to a pit of salted boiling water, blanch for about 2-3 minutes, then drain and rinse in cold water. Having them ready before you start will mean less faffing about later, I promise!
Right. Once you start a risotto you need to stay with and not move from the stove until it’s finished. You’ll need to be focused. No wandering off. So first into a wide heavy bottomed pan is a tablespoon of olive oil and the same of butter. When this melted I add the onions and fried them until they were soft, but not coloured. Don’t let them colour. The best way to this is ignore everything and everyone around you and keep them moving.
Next in was the garlic and the rice. You want to let this cook for a few minutes but keep it moving, and don’t let it brown. DON’T LET IT BROWN!!!! Focus here people. Now it’s time to start adding the liquid. First in the white wine, and stir until it’s all absorbed. Next the stock – which needs to be HOT, not cold as you add it. This helps cook the rice all the way through, otherwise you’ll have rice that’s mushy on the outside and uncooked on the inside. About a ladle at a time should do it, and keep things moving constantly. This was my risotto about half way through…
Once all the stock was used up and absorbed, I tested the rice. It was indeed creamy, but just had the slightest bite to it. Lovely jubbly. Next I seasoned it with lashings of freshly ground black pepper, added the cheese and stirred a few time until it was melted…
…then in with the veg, then the pancetta….
…stir until it’s combined, and onto plates. Just enough time to garnish with a few more shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano…
…and dig in!