Entries in risotto (16)


frugal food

when i was cooking for the fundraiser i was keen to avoid waste and this bacon and mushroom risotto, while not particularly beautiful to look at, was the final stage of that.

i used bacon scraps which came from the grilled bacon we served with burgers plus the stalks from the mushrooms which i’d roasted for the veggie burgers and also added the mushroom juices that were released when i roasted them to my stock. a handful of parmesan and some sage from the garden were the finishing touches to a rich and flavoursome dish.


jerusalem artichoke, wild mushroom and crispy pancetta risotto

last year i learnt how to make really good risottos using root vegetables. the secret is to use the relevant root to make a stock, as well as adding it to the risotto in some other form (chunked and roasted is easiest).

in this case i had a kilogram of jerusalem artichokes and 500g were finely sliced and added, along with a couple of cloves of garlic, to an onion that had been sautéed in olive oil plus just under a litre of water. this simmered gently and when the ‘chokes were soft was blitzed to form a thin broth, which you use as your stock for the risotto. the recipe (dennis cotter's) calls for this to be passed through a puree but given i had roasted the remaining 500g and planned to add them to the dish i decided not to bother.

last time i made jerusalem artichoke i served it topped with scallops, but this version is better. the wild mushrooms were sautéed with garlic in some melted butter. seasoning and a handful of parsley provided the finishing touch.

the crispy pancetta was the result of david’s dislike of mushrooms, and an alternative topping for him, but actually the two worked brilliantly together – risottos made with this sort of stock always seem particularly rich and creamy (this was probably helped by the larger than usual amount of parmesan i added) and the jeruslem artichokes slightly sweet earthy flavour contrasted fabulously with the fresh garlicky mushrooms and the smoke of the pancetta.

i think it might be the best risotto i’ve ever made.


black pepper and taleggio risotto

“light-yet-powerful black pepper, sage and taleggio risotto, made with aged carnaroli: a collection of separate grains suspended in the most brilliantly flavoured and textured liquid with dollops of molten cheese and micro-shavings of lemon zest.

brilliant simplicity of the made-to-order risotto marrying the richness of taleggio with the punch of black pepper."

doesn’t that sound amazing? i read this about a dish cooked by australian chef jonathan barthelmess and given i’m unlikely to make it to his restaurant any time soon i decided to try and create it myself.

i made a simple risotto, omitting any flavouring beyond garlic, onion, wine and stock until the end. when the risotto was ready i stirred in a heaped tablespoon of grated parmesan, the grated zest of a lemon and about a  teaspoon of roughly ground black pepper (keep tasting as you add it until you get a peppery kick that goes beyond the usually seasoning that you’d add). i then added the cubes of taleggio, stirred briefly, covered and left to rest for a moment while i fried some sage leaves in olive oil until crispy (it just takes a few second).

when i served the risotto the taleggio cubes were only just starting to melt, making it look and taste very decadent. this wasn’t the “light-yet-powerful” dish i read about – i think 150g of cheese between the two of us was a bit excessive! however, the flavours did work well together while still being distinct. i didn’t have enough sage to make this a real feature but would be interested to try and build this flavour up a bit more. i think some shredded cavolo nero stirred through would also work really well. 


purple sprouting broccoli with leek and shallot farrotto


this is my final recipe for british food fortnight. again most of the ingredients are courtesy of kentish farmers, via foodari, but the recipe comes from irish chef dennis cotter. it is another step along my journey of using farro aka barley aka spelt, in place of rice in my risottos.

this dish is the most complex version i’ve tried, and not because it’s difficult to make. with most risotto-style dishes everything comes together and it’s a real one-pan dish. this has two distinct elements – the farrotto itself has gentle comforting flavours from slow-cooked leeks and shallots and is finished off with a decadent amount of butter and cheese; the broccoli is stir fried, again with shallots but this time with some red chilli to pep things up.

the resulting dish has contrasting flavours and textures but works beautifully. it also looks surprisingly good – having seen and been intrigued by the recipe i was dreading how it would look and what my camera would have to deal with!

i’ve really enjoyed cooking and eating a range of british food over the past few weeks but, to be honest, its not that different from what i normally have. as i mentioned at the start of british food fortnight, choosing seasonal and local ingredients is important and thanks to schemes such as foodari, even city foodies like me don’t have to work too hard to get this kind of food into the kitchen and ready for cooking. which is great news as my vegetable-growing efforts were particularly ineffective this year.

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sage inspiration needed!

my sage plant is going crazy at the moment. it's looking very beautiful - the leaves are variegated with green, white and purple patches - and i'd like to find some recipes to do it justice.

this butternut squash risotto with goats cheese was a good starting point but i need more ideas - can anyone recommend anything?

eta: this risotto was finished with browned butter which had sage leaves added to it, until they crisped up. very delicious and a trick worth remembering (to blog)!