Sausage risotto

This is a favourite. It is probably not that authentic, but it is very tasty. As usual, the technique is to make a delicious stew, and then add the rice and stock to make the risotto. I allow around 60g rice per person, and 3x as much water as rice. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 50g butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 sausages, chopped into chunks – around 200g
  • 250g risotto rice
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • salt and pepper
  • 20g porcini mushrooms
  • approx 750ml hot chicken or beef stock
  • salt and pepper
  • around 50g grated parmesan

METHOD:

  • Melt half of the butter in a pan, and gently fry the onion and sausage until the sausage is cooked. 
  • Meanwhile, soak the porcini mushrooms in half a cup of hot water.
  • When the sausage is cooked, remove the soaked mushrooms from the water, chop them finely and add them to the pan, with the tomato puree and the mushroom water, to make a simple stew. Simmer for around 15 minutes. Keep an eye and add a little stock if the mixture is beginning to stick. 
  • Add all of the rice, stir to coat in the stew, and then cook gently. Add the stock one ladleful at the time, adding more stock only when the last bit has been absorbed. After 20 minutes, all the stock will be in and the rice will be cooked. 
  • Take the pan off the heat, and stir in the rest of the butter and half the parmesan cheese. Adjust the seasoning; I like a lot of pepper
  • Serve with more parmesan cheese on the side. 

I think the real version uses proper Italian sausages, but these are hard to come by locally. 

Rabbit risotto with olives

More rabbit recipes. This one is from Risotto Risotto by Valentina Harris. There are some risotto basics that crop up. Adding the ingredients one by one, and letting them cook together allows the flavours to build. Many of the meat risottos involve making a rich stew, and then adding the risotto rice and the stock, bit by bit. 

I allow around 60g risotto rice per serving, and multiply by 3 to get the volume of stock in ml. For example, for 100g rice, use 300ml stock. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 rabbit, jointed and rinsed
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 1 large handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g chopped pancetta or streaky bacon
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 glass red wine
  • around 20 small black olives, chopped. 
  • a pinch of dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 400g risotto rice
  • 1.2 litres of chicken or vegetable stock, simmering 

METHOD:

  • Fry the onion, celery, pancetta and parsley in the olive oil over a low heat, until the onion is soft
  • Add the rabbit and brown it all over. 
  • Mix the tomato puree and wine together, and stir it in, with the olives, oregano, salt and pepper. Simmer over a low heat or cook in a low oven for an hour and a half, until the rabbit is really tender. Add stock to ensure that the stew does not stick or dry out. 
  • Let the stew cool, and strip the rabbit meat from the bones. Cut larger sections of meat into pieces the size of a walnut. Return to the stew and bring it back to a simmer
  • Add all of the rice, and stir to coat all the grains. Cook over a gentle heat, and add the stock a ladleful at a time, Make sure the rice absorbs the stock before adding the next ladleful.
  • After about 20 minutes the rice will be cooked. Remove the risotto from the heat, and let it stand for a couple of minutes before serving. 

Spiced pumpkin risotto

This recipe is from the Naked Chef, by Jamie Oliver. It has rather a lot of ingredients, but the flavour is amazing, so it is really worth it. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 butternut squash or onion squash
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried thyme leaves (or add fresh thyme while you are cooking the risotto)
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp hot chilli flakes, or two small dried chillies
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 litre hot vegetable or chicken stock
  • another tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 head of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 more cloves of garlic
  • 400g good risotto rice
  • 100ml dry white vermouth or dry white wine
  • 70g butter
  • 100g parmesan
  • 2 heaped spoonfuls of mascarpone

METHOD:

  • Turn the oven up to 200C and start to prepare the spices. Put the dry herbs and spices and the salt and pepper into a spice grinder, or grind with a pestle and mortar. Once it is all in a fine powder, crush the garlic, and pound it in, and mix to a paste with the olive oil. 
  • Next, prepare the squash. Peel it if you are using a butternut squash and you don’t like the skin. Cut length wise into eights (half, half and half again) and scoop out the seeds. Rub the squash all over with the spice mixture, and lay it out in a small roasting dish. Roast for thirty minutes in the middle of the oven. 
  • The roasted squash is just lovely as it is, and if you wish, you could add chickpeas to the recipe. For the risotto, set it aside to cool, and then chop finely. Chop one half more finely. 
  • Make sure your stock is good and hot to make a good risotto.
  • In the risotto pan, head olive oil, and then gently cook the onion and celery for 3 to four minutes, before adding the garlic. Once the vegetables look soft, add the rice and turn up the heat a little. Continue to cook until the rice is turning translucent. Keep stirring so the rice doesn’t scorch or stick. 
  • When the rice is ready add the wine or vermouth and the thyme leaves, and keep stirring. Once the alcohol has boiled off, start adding the stock and the roughly chopped half of the chopped squash. Add the stock slowly, a ladleful at a time,  and keep checking the flavour and texture of the rice. I found the squash quite salty, so you don’t need to add masses more. Wait until each addition of stock has been absorbed by the rice before pouring more in. The rice will be ready when it is tender but still with a hint of a bite to it. 
  • When you think it is just about ready, turn off the heat, and stir in the rest of the pumpkin, the butter, mascarpone and parmesan. 

This makes four very large or six modest portions. 

Crab and pea risotto

We had a big tub of crab meat, almost 500g, much more than I could eat in one roll, so I made this delicious risotto. The crab meat came from Kallin – Namara seafoods 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 800ml of hot stock (vegetable or fish)
  • 200ml white wine
  • 25g butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 175g risotto rice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of half a lemon
  • A tiny pinch of saffron (optional)
  • 140g frozen peas
  • 400g crab meat
  • 1-2 tbsp chive flowers, or chopped chives. 

METHOD:

  • Make sure the stock is hot, bring to a simmer.
  • Melt the butter in a large pan, and gently fry the onion and garlic until soft – around 5 minutes. 
  • Add the rice, and cook for another couple of minutes. 
  • Add the lemon zest and then the white wine, and then the pinch of saffron.
  • Add the hot stock, one ladleful at a time, stirring to mix and waiting for the liquid to be absorbed before adding the next ladleful. 
  • When the rice is nearly cooked (about 18 minutes into the cooking process) add the peas, lemon juice and crab meat, season and cook for around 3 monutes. 
  • Once the rice is cooked, add a knob of butter, another tbsp of stock, stir and leave to sit. 
  • Serve with wedges of lemon, and garnished with chive flowers. 

Prawn risotto

Eating locally caught prawns, delicious. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 200g prawns, cooked and peeled
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 40g butter
  • 200g risotto rice
  • 200 ml dry white wine
  • 500 ml stock, simmering
  • 50g parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

  • Fry the onion very slowly in half of the butter, until it is soft and translucent. 
  • Stir in the rice and continue to cook until the rice is glossy and hot. 
  • Pour in the wine and heat until the alcohol has evaporated. 
  • Add the stock slowly, allowing the rice to absorb each ladleful before adding the next one. 
  • When the rice is almost cooked, about 15 minutes in, add the prawns, and continue to cook, adding the stock as before. 
  • When the rice is cooked, but still a little firm to the bite, remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the remaining butter, parsley, parmesan and adjust the seasoning. 
  • Serve after a couple of minutes, in warmed bowls. 

Scallop Risotto

More food for the wet cyclists. They said they liked fish, so I made Scallop Risotto using locally sourced scallops. I served a side dish of carrots and asparagus. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 600g prepared scallops
  • 100g butter
  • 4 tbsp brandy
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 500g risotto rice
  • 1.2 litres of fish stock
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 1 handful of chive flowers
  • 4 tbsp double cream

METHOD:

  • Separate the scallops from the corals, and chop the scallop meat into chunks the size of the end of your thumb
  • Heat half the butter, and fry the scallops for 3 minutes or so. 
  • Pour over the brandy, and when it is hot, light it to flambe the scallops. When the flames die down, season with salt and pepper
  • Next, heat the rest of the butter in another pan, and gently fry the finely chopped onion until soft. 
  • Add the rice and fry until the rice is really hot. 
  • Pour on the stock, one ladleful at a time, waiting for each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. 
  • When the rice is mostly cooked, add the cooked scallops with all the juices, along with the corals and the parsley. Stir together, and keep adding the stock as before. 
  • When the risotto is creamy, and the grains still have a little bite to them, take off the heat and stir in the cream. 
  • After a couple of minutes, transfer to a warmed platter and garnish with chive flowers before serving. 

 

Asparagus Risotto

This is a beautiful summer risotto. We made it because there was asparagus that had been reduced in the co-op, and added some fresh vegetables from the garden. I added mange tout peas, broad beans, and chive flowers. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 100g broad beans
  • 100g asparagus, chopped into 2cm lengths
  • 100g mange tout peas (or about 300g total green vegetables)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 75ml dry white wine
  • 750ml hot vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh sage
  • 50g butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50g parmesan cheese, grated
  • a handful of chive flowers

METHOD:

  • Gently fry the onion in half of the butter, until it is soft, about five minutes.
  • Add the rice and give it a good stir, heating it through. 
  • Add the glass of wine, and bring the mixture back to a simmer. 
  • Start adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, bringing the risotto back to a simmer each time, and waiting for the stock to be absorbed into the rice. 
  • About half-way through, add the sage, asparagus, beans and peas. Continue adding the stock as before. 
  • When the rice is just about done, take the risotto from the heat, stir in the parmesan and the chive flowers and the rest of the butter. Season with pepper, and a bit of salt if required. Leave the risotto to rest. 
  • Transfer to a warmed platter to serve. 

This can be garnished with toasted sage leaves, or other chopped herbs. 

Risotto with Beef and Tomato Ragu

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.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 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

METHOD:

  • 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.

Turkey Risotto

Here is the traditional turkey risotto recipe ready for boxing day. It is adapted from Risotto! Risotto!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 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.

METHOD:

  • 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.

 

Risotto! Risotto! by Valentina Harris

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.