Appetites – Risotto

Good old Jamie Oliver. He introduced me to risottos and now I cook one at least once a week. We like to have one meat free day a week so this is a good meal to have when you want to pretend to be good and virtuous. That was said tongue in cheek as you’ll see at the end.

It is a great way to use up any leftover meat, fish or seafood as well, as the true Italian one is mainly rice with the added bits really only a garnish put in at the end. Not in this house. We like strong flavours so my risotto has to pack a punch.

The basic mix is fairly simple and never varies. You can add chopped celery if you have some to use up.

1 shallot chopped
1-2 cloves garlic chopped
Arborio or other risotto rice
Olive oil
A splash of wine or vermouth or even dry sherry
Seasoning – salt, pepper and dried chilli flakes
Herbs – either dried at the beginning or fresh added just before serving

I use 120-150g rice for 2 people depending on how hungry we are. My neighbour popped round with 3 lovely large beetroot so I thought I’d have a go with a beetroot and feta one. And boy what a colour! What with that and the jelly I posted about last time it was a very pink day.

I’m not a fan of pickled beetroot but I do like it roasted which brings out the sweetness. As these ones were so big I par-boiled them for 30 minutes first and let them cool. Then on came the Marigolds and once peeled and cut into 6 chunks each they were in a roasting tin, drizzled with oil and roasted in a fan oven for 45 minutes at 160C.

Soften the chopped shallot and garlic in the olive oil with a pinch of chilli flakes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil until slightly opaque. Add the splash of alcohol or you can miss out this stage. Once the wine is absorbed, start adding hot stock. I use Marigold (non-rubber variety) vegetable stock powder as it’s quick and simple. Make up about a pint and keep simmering to one side.

Keep the rice over a low heat and stir from time to time to stop it sticking. This is the classic absorption method. Should only take about 20 minutes depending on whether you like your rice to be completely soft or with a bit of bite. If you use up all the stock just add water.

Chopped up the beetroot and added to the pan about 5 mins before the end. Then just before serving I stirred in some toasted pine nuts for crunch, chopped parsley and crumbled the feta cheese over the top. Pretty as a picture…here’s the one I took earlier.

And what was the cheat I mentioned at the beginning. Well you are supposed to stir in a large chunk of butter, but I like crème fraiche, so I put a large spoonful of that in before the beetroot to get that creamy consistency. While it is lower in fat it’s not exactly virtuous, not that I have ever claimed to be that. As they say, if the hat fits….yes I will wear it!


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4 comments for “Appetites – Risotto

  1. October 22, 2010 at 18:37

    The Russians do one called Plov, basically a one pot rice dish with whatever you put into it, often chicken. If that is yum, this one above here would probably be extra-yum.

  2. October 22, 2010 at 20:13

    Risotto! One of my favourites, and a dish I flatter myself I cook rather well. Mrs Gruff and I have a strict demarcation in the matter of cooking since we each have our own specialities, so I cook the risottos. We’re too poor now to keep both arborio and carnaroli rice in the cupboard, and have none of either at present but, as poor as we are, I would never use leftovers in a risotto. Oh Rossa, how could you?

    As an aside: I can never remember whether Nano Vialone is named thus or Vialone Nano.

  3. Rossa
    October 22, 2010 at 20:58

    My dear William, it is a good way to use up a bit of cooked chicken with crispy pancetta crumbles over it or prawns with some asparagus or peas.

    My veggies ones are cauliflower, a Jamie recipe with toasted breadcrumbs flavoured with anchoves, roasted butternut squash, roasted tomato and garlic or a mix of mushrooms.

    Sorry if I have disappointed you!

  4. October 22, 2010 at 22:15

    I’ll never recover.

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