Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Creamy Green Vegetable Risotto with Lemon Thyme.


It is a thing of joy if done well and a stodgy, claggy mess if not prepared with enough care. It seems this balance is often something difficult to master. However, being a risotto lover I would like to think that I have somewhat managed the art.

Risotto’s issue is that it is temperamental. One has to give it as much love and attention as you want it to give you. A risotto that has not been prepared with care will never sing in the way one that has been lovingly stirred and seasoned will do.

My verdict on the matter is to pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy watching the magic of the rice swell as you add stock. I do at least, but then again I am a mega food geek.

Anyway, I’m of the opinion a risotto should be oozy but not too wet. However a trick I usually employ is to always make it a bit wetter than it appears to need to be. This way while it stands at the end of the cooking process and as you eat, it doesn’t dry up leaving you with a bowl of stodge.

I would also advise you to season with black pepper liberally, it really adds an extra dimension and some bite to this silky and comforting plate of loveliness. I am unashamed to say that despite making enough with which to intend leftovers I ate the lot. I enjoyed it so much I simply couldn’t resist.

Serves 3

2tbsp olive oil
A large knob of butter
1 pint of chicken or veggie stock.
200g risotto rice.
Half a large onion, finely chopped.
1 clove of garlic, crushed.
A large leek chopped.
2 tbsp cream cheese or mascarpone.
Two handfuls of sugar snap peas, quartered.
 A glass of dry white wine.
1 tbsp thyme leaves.
 Large handful of freshly grated parmesan.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper.

To start with get your stock hot.

Secondly in another pan melt half the butter and then add the olive oil to raise the butters burning point. Over a low heat sweat the leeks until really soft then stir in the cream cheese or mascarpone.

In different wide based but tall sided pan add rest of the butter and olive oil and sweat the onion until it looks slightly translucent, then add the garlic and continue to sweat until fragrant.

Increase the heat, add the rice and fry until it looks slightly translucent then add the wine and simmer until you can’t smell the harsh alcohol scent coming off the ingredients and the liquid has absorbed into the rice.

Turn your heat back down and ladle by ladle add the stock adding the next after the previous one has been absorbed. During this process continue to stir. This will massage the starch out of the rice resulting in a creamy, oozy risotto.

After 8 minutes throw in the peas and a further 2 minutes later check the rice, if it is cooked but with a slight bite then it is done. Stir in the creamy leek mixture, thyme, parmesan and season. 

At this point I feel it is crucial to cover the risotto and let it sit for 5 minutes. This helps it relax and helps the flavors to mingle. Loosen with some water if necessary and serve immediately. 

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