We have a weeks holidays for Halloween so spend the days mooching, visiting, eating Barmbrack (ok – that’s me) and often wanting to make something a little different, something not on “THE LIST” for dinner. If carrot cake or coffee cake is the perfect wet and windy October cake, then this must be the perfect cheap and very cheerful October dinner. Risotto.
I never ‘got’ Risotto – I think I must have been served Ireland’s answer to Risotto – a little like Ireland’s answer to curry involving raisins and pineapple – it was always a stodgy mess that filled your belly but not much more. My sister would often order it, make it, tell me about risotto recipes – but it wasn’t until relatively recently that I set about making it to see what all the fuss was about. And I think I struck lucky in that I went to the bible of Italian cooking, the weighty “Made in Italy” by Giorgio Locatelli.
This is the sort of book you pick up to find a Risotto recipe and find yourself three hours later, shouting “just have crackers, I’m reading” as your poor famished children have to make their own lunch (SHOCK/HORROR) as you’re too busy engrossed in the wonderful way he writes about growing up in Italy. He has an entire chapter devoted to Risotto – (pages 196 – 268 to be precise), introducing us to things like white truffle risotto, nettle risotto, 5 pages of porcini risotto, pumpkin and nutmeg, seafood, clam & prawn all get their own individual recipe and then there’s my favourite (which I was a little thrilled to see was his kids favourite too) Chorizo & Pea Risotto. This is the recipe I would use as an argument for “good food does not have to cost the earth” if I’m ever called upon by Prime Time or Newsnight. I doubt it cost more than €5 to feed the four of us – which is not the point – I cook it because it is the food of angels (if they were to eat dinners) but its dinners like this that make me wonder about frozen pizza, ‘cheap’ fishfingers and lardy sausage rolls. The only thing you do need is about 30 minutes of undivided attention, which is also the perfect amount of time to de-stress with a glass of white as you stir. (You have to open a bottle for a few slugs in this recipe anyway!)
adapted from Made in Italy
150g freshly podded or frozen peas
4 /6 oz chorizo sausage (spicy of you can get it)
2.5 litres good chicken stock
1 onion, very finely chopped
400g carnaroli risotto rice
125ml dry white wine
2 tbsp tomato passata
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
to finish: (also known as the mantecatura, this is common to all good risotto))
About 75g cold butter, cut into small dice
About 100g finely grated Parmesan
- Blanch the peas in boiling salted water for about 2 min, then drain. Chop the chorizo into small pieces. Bring stock to the boil in a pan, turn down the heat and simmer while you start to make the risotto.
- Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan, add the onion and the chorizo. Cook gently for about 5 min until the onion is softened.
- Add the rice and stir, then add the wine and let it evaporate until the onion and rice are dry.
- Add a ladleful of stock and the tomato passata, stirring the rice in the pan. (You must keep the stock simmering close to where you are cooking the risotto) Stir. And stir. and keep stirring. When the stock has almost evaporated, add another ladleful. Keep stirring and scraping, waiting until each ladleful has evaporated before adding another. Keep stirring. This is the complete opposite of Paella where no stirring is allowed. Continue for 12-14 min.
- After 12-14 min add the peas. Keep adding stock for a couple of minutes until the grains of rice are soft, but retain a little bite. This may take up to 20/25 minutes. You may have to add extra stock or boiling water – it totally depends on the brand of rice you use.
- Turn down heat and let the risotto rest for a minute, then beat in the cold diced butter with a wooden spoon and add the Parmesan, stirring vigorously. Don’t even think about the calories. You are gone way past that stage.
- Serve with shavings of Parmesan. And did I mention you have the wine open anyway?