Hello, Happy Sunday. Let’s talk about risotto….
Any dish that requires you to simply chop and then stir the listed ingredients is an essential element to anyone’s culinary roster. Arguably the best chop and stir dish is the risotto. Originating in Italy as a way to cook rice using broth (giving it a beautiful flavour and a creamy consistency); risotto is now a staple food for dinner parties and restaurants alike and as a way to use up leftover meat, veg and fish.
Today I took classic risotto flavourings: ham and pea, and have jazzed them up a little by stirring in a generous spoon of marscarpone and drizzling over basil pesto. I have made my pesto from scratch and list how to do so below but if you do not have the time, will or ingredients to make it yourself then shop bought pesto will also work well. Plus it saves the savage stripping off of leaves from a basil plant that I partook in today.
Risotto is not difficult to prepare and cook but it does require care and attention. Do not just throw in all the stock at the start and then go and walk your dog or do the laundry whilst leaving it to simmer. Stay by it to make sure that the stock is being evenly absorbed and the rice is not sticking to the bottom of the pan – a burnt bottom does not create a creamy risotto! When I made this it took 40 minutes for the rice to absorb all the water and to be cooked through, however it could take more or less time than this so keep on tasting the rice to see how it is doing.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes approximately
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
- 1 tsp thyme leaves
- 150g risotto rice
- 1/2 cup of white wine or Noilly Prat
- 650 ml chicken stock/ broth
- 100g ham hock
- 100g frozen peas
- 100g marscarpone
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 small handful of basil
- 1 small handful of spinach
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp parmesan, grated
- 20g pine nuts
- salt and pepper
- In a food processor blitz together 1 clove of garlic, 2 tbsp of olive oil, basil, spinach, pine nuts, parmesan plus a pinch of salt and pepper until well combined and in a thin paste like consistency.
- In large saucepan heat up 1 tbsp of olive oil on a medium heat. Add the chopped garlic, onion and thyme and fry for five minutes. Add the rice to the pan and allow it to fry for a further one minute until it is translucent. Stir in the wine and leave until it has all evaporated.
- Next gradually stir in ladles of the stock, one at a time. Do not add the next ladle of stock until the previous one has been completely absorbed by the rice.
- After approximately thirty minutes heat up 1 tbsp of butter in a small saucepan and add in a small handful of peas. Leave them to fry for a few minutes before adding a ladle of stock to this pan and then start to mash up the peas into a puree. Stir this puree into the rice and simmer for a further five minutes.
- Taste the rice to check if it is done and add salt and pepper to taste. When the rice is al dente stir in the rest of the peas and the ham hock and leave to cook for a final five minutes.
- Take the saucepan off the hob and dollop on the remaining butter and lemon juice plus the marscarpone and stir carefully until both are melted and combined.
- Drizzle the pesto over the risotto and then eat!