You can make this with any left-over bolognese Ragu, or do as I did – make the ragu from scratch. I made double, ate some for tea with pasta, froze some, and made the risotto with the rest. This is from Risotto Risotto.
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 stick of celery, diced
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 slices of unsmoked bacon, chopped
- 250g minced beef
- 1 glass of red wine
- 400g can of tomatoes, pureed in the tin
- 1 bayleaf
- salt and pepper
- 500g risotto rice
- 1.5 litres of stock
- 25g butter
- 50g grated parmesan
- Make the ragu sauce first, preferably the day before. Fry all the chopped vegetables and bacon in the oil until the vegetables are soft.
- Add the mince and the wine, and fry until the meat is brown and the alcohol has boiled away.
- Add the pureed tomatoes, bayleaf, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and leave to simmer for 2 hours until rich and dense. Check frequently to ensure that it is not ‘sticking’.
- Next, add the rice to the ragu, and stir at a simmer until the mixture looks dry.
- Keep the stock on the boil, and add a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly and allowing the liquid to be absorbed before the next ladleful is added.
- Continue in this way for around 20 minutes; the rice will be firm and cooked through, and the risotto will be creamy. Take the risotto off the heat, remove the bayleaf, and stir in the butter and parmesan cheese.
- Cover and leave to rest for a few minutes, before transferring to a warmed platter and serving.
Here is the traditional turkey risotto recipe ready for boxing day. It is adapted from Risotto! Risotto!
- 1 onion
- 1 celery stick
- 75g butter
- 400g left-over turkey, diced
- zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
- 200ml dry white wine
- salt and pepper
- 1.2 litres of stock or gravy from the turkey
- 400g risotto rice
- 5 tbsp single cream
- 50g parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
The above quantities will feed 4 to 6 people. If you are cooking larger quantities, use multiple pans, with around 400g rice cooking in each pan.
- Gently fry the onion and celery together in 30g of the butter, until the vegetables are soft.
- Add the meat, cook through and then add the lemon juice and lemon rind, the wine and seasoning, and simmer together to create a tasty stew.
- Add the rice, mix together, and then start adding the hot stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly and keeping the risotto at a simmer. When the liquid has been fully incorporated into the risotto, add another ladleful.
- After around 20 minutes, the rice will be firm but cooked, and the sauce will be creamy and coating the rice. Take the risotto off the heat, and add the rest of the butter, the cream and the parmesan. Give this all a good stir, and leave it to rest for a few minutes.
- Serve on a warmed platter, garnished with parsley.
I was trying out a recipe for mackerel risotto last night, and as I did, I thought of all my recipe books, I have a shelf full of them. Some have favourite recipes in, others are the ones I go to when I am looking for new ways of cooking basic ingredients. This book is one of the latter type.
Valentina Harris started writing recipe books in the 1980s, and by the 1990s she was on television, bringing authentic Italian cookery to us all. She was brought up in Italy, and is a well-regarded chef. I have also got one of her earlier books, about regional Italian cookery and food culture.
Risotto! Risotto! is a fabulous book. It includes a section on the start on making stock, and on the methods of making risotto. On to the recipes, every one I have tried is delicious. The range of recipes covers all sorts of basic ingredients, and the index works well. My favourites include asparagus risotto, beetroot risotto, fennel risotto, lamb and courgette, and the famous boxing day risotto, called risotto with a white ragu.
There is an updated version of the book on Amazon, but my old version is crammed with my favourite recipes and ideas, and available for 1 penny plus postage.
A recipe from the spring.
I know that nettles are supposed to be tasty and nutritious and free, but I’ve always struggled with the recipes that I’ve tried, usually ending up with something that looks wrong. But the scent of blanched nettles suggests an affinity with gooseberries, elderflowers, mackerel, and a wonderful hint of spring. I was out foraging for seaweed on the day I made this. At the end of the walk, I scrambled up a bank of dried kelp and pebbles, then silverweed, and then a great abundance of freshly sprouting spring nettles.
When I got home, I blanched my pickings of nettle tops, and found I had 75g, enough to make myself a tasty wee risotto for one. You could easily multiply up for more.
- 1/4 mild onion, finely chopped
- 1 lovage sprig, finely chopped (leaves not the stem)
- 25g butter
- 75-100g blanched nettle tops, finely chopped
- 100g arborio rice
- 1 glass white wine
- 300ml hot vegetable stock (I used marigold bouillon)
- 1 oz parmesan, grated
- Salt and pepper
- Fry the onion in the butter until it is soft and nearly browning.
- Add the chopped nettles and chopped lovage, and stir in, frying, for a minute.
- Add the rice, keep stirring and frying, until the rice looks glazed and shiny.
- Pour in a glass of wine, and bring to the boil.
- Slowly add the stock, bringing to the boil and waiting until the stock is absorbed before adding more.
- Once the rice is tender, but still a little firm, add the salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. Stir in, cover, and leave to stand for 3 minutes before serving.
Could you serve fish with this? Not sure. It was very good on its own.
We had the usual debate through the late afternoon about what we might do for a meal, when the spouse mentioned that we had some squats, and I said that I liked risotto. We used Valentina Harris’s book, Risotto Risotto to give us the technical details. This is what we did.
- 1/2 an onion, finely chopped
- A lovage leaf (or a little bit of celery)
- 50g butter
- 200g arborio rice
- 1/4 bottle vinho verde (or any dry white wine)
- 500ml boiling hot vegetable stock
- 500g squats, cut in half (peeled weight)
- 25g freshly grated parmesan
- 1 tbsp finely chopped flatleaf parsley
- Salt and pepper
My rule of thumb, for a good sized portion per person I allow 75g rice and 225ml liquid. For a starter, 50g. This recipe depended on how much weight of squats we had, and we got three servings.
- Fry the onion in half the butter until soft, then stir in the risotto rice and lovage.
- If you are using celery, chop it finely and fry it with the onion.
- Stir the rice into the frying onion until it looks opaque and is hot. Then stir in the wine, then start adding the stock a little bit at a time, allowing each bit of stock to be absorbed before adding the next.
- With the last little bit of stock, add the squats. When the stock is fully soaked in, remove the risotto from the heat, and add the parsley, the rest of the butter and the parmesan, add any salt and pepper that is needed, and then cover. Leave the risotto to rest for a couple of minutes before serving.