Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Relaxed Risotto

This is one of my favourite meals to make. It takes a bit of time so I love Sunday nights, which are all chilled and relaxed - the perfect Risotto cooking conditions. It's one of The Hubs top 3 dinners and I would get "the look" if I stopped making it. Don't be afraid of risotto, it's actually very easy to make - allow 25 minutes for your work of genius.

For two savages, I use

4-6oz arborio rice (Tesco own brand is perfect)
1 onion, finely diced
2 sticks of celery, ribbed & finely diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
Salt & pepper
Large glass of white wine
2 thinly sliced chicken breasts
A large handful of frozen Petit Pois
700ml hot chicken or vegetable stock
Parmesan cheese
Chopped flat parsley or chives (both, if you like them)
Olive oil & a bit of butter

Heat the oil & butter in a large heavy pot, then add the celery & onion. Fry gently until translucent, adding the garlic and seasoning towards the end (so the garlic doesn't burn).

Add the rice and fry for a minute or 2 until it sizzles, a bit like popcorn. You want it to soak up all the oil & butter coating the veg. Then throw in your wine. The liquid will start to go cloudy. THIS IS NORMAL as the rice starch is releasing into the wine. Give it a good stir.
When this has almost evaporated, add the first of the stock.. about 1/4 or 150ml if you're precise. Stir. When that's evaporated, add the next lot. Now you put your chicken into the pot... and stir. The chicken will poach in the hot rice & stock and be gorgeously tender

When you've added 3 lots of stock, test a grain of rice by biting it. It should be very slightly hard in the centre and if so, add the last of the stock. If it's soft, you're nearly there... add the peas & cook for 2-3 minutes.

When the rice is tender and the risotto looks thick and soupy - not watery or dry - turn off the heat, add your herbs and taste for seasoning. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan and a very large glass of wine.

If you don't like chicken, use prawns but add them after the 3rd batch of stock so they don't get too tough. Finely sliced courgettes, leeks and mushrooms also work really well instead of peas (and bulk out the risotto to feed any unexpected guests!)

When I make it, I use Tesco Ingredients arborio or carnaroli rice, Maldon salt, mixed peppercorns, Tesco frozen petit pois, Knorr Touch of Taste liquid stock, Specially Selected Parmesan from Aldi and any freebie 1/4 bottle of wine kicking around if I don't want to open a big bottle (the freebies we get on the ferry to France are perfect for this!)

Here's the proof in the photos!
The onion & celery softening in my trusty Anolon pot
The tricks of the trade (L-R) Maldon salt, french mixed peppercorns, risotto rice & freebie wine

The risotto after the first addition of stock

The chicken and the second lot of stock

Now the third lot of stock and the petit pois
Now add the parmesan and it's ready to eat...

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