I love spring veggies – broad beans, baby courgettes and spring petit pois. And try to find all kinds of ways of using them. We also have skinny little green asparagus spears around the moment. The weather turned nasty this weekend – so risotto seemed to tick all of the boxes. And here’s the result.
If making risotto scares the heck out of you – don’t let it. This recipe is simple – 15 easy steps – and if you follow it to the T – you’ll get a great result. The secret is really that you need to stay with your rice – giving it your undivided attention for about 17 minutes. But that love will pay off with a creamy, delectable result. Worth every second.I blanche my veggies gently before I start the rice. Literally dunk them in a boiling pot of water for a minute or so, then refresh them in cold water to keep their colour and drain them so they are dry. If you are using broad beans – make sure to pop the outside skins off. Courgettes need to be blanched whole or they will become waterlogged. Let them dry then cut them into thickish slices.Whenever we have a roast chicken for supper – I make a couple of litres of chicken stock with the leftovers. Just boil up all of the bones and left over bits with some onion, carrot, bay leaves, pepper and salt. Strain and cool, then refrigerate for a day. Scoop the congealed fat off the top of the stock, strain again and use immediately or freeze.
- 1 litre chicken stock (or vegetable if you prefer)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 shallots, finely chopped (or 2 medium onions)
- 1 small head celery, finely chopped (discard any tough outer sticks and strands)
- sea salt and black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 400 g risotto rice (use the best you can find – carnaroli or arborio)
- 100 ml dry white wine (use a good one – if you wouldn’t drink it – don’t cook with it)
- 70 g butter
- 100 g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- a couple of handfulls of your favourite seasonal veggies… I used asparagus, peas and courgettes
- Heat the stock to a gentle simmer.
- In a separate pan heat the olive oil. Add the shallot or onion, celery and a pinch of salt and sweat the vegetables gently for about 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic, sweat for another 2 minutes and when the vegetables have softened add the rice.
- Turn up the heat – this is a crucial point – from now on there’s no leaving the pan!
- Stir slowly and continuously, allowing the rice to fry. You must keep the rice moving. And it shouldn’t colour – if the temperature seems too high – turn it down a bit.
- After 2 or 3 minutes the rice will begin to look translucent as it absorbs all the flavours of your base (it may crackle at this point that’s fine).
- Add the wine. Keeping on stirring as it hits the pan, inhale deeply – it will smelt fantastic!
- The wine will sizzle around the rice – evaporating any harsh alcohol flavours, but leaving the rice with a delicate fresh essence.
- Once the wine seems to have cooked into the rice add your first ladle of hot stock and a pinch of salt (keep tasting the rice to see how much you need while you are adding the stock).
- Turn down the heat to a fast-ish simmer (it’s important not to boil the rice – otherwise the outside will be cooked and fluffy, and the inside raw and gritty.)
- Keep adding ladlefuls of stock stirring and allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take about 15 minutes.
- Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Now add the vegetables and stir through for a minute
- Check seasoning.
- Remove from the heat and add the butter and the Parmesan.
- Stir through gently.