It’s post-Christmas leftover central in my fridge right now: there’s blue cheese and Cheddar, too many carrots and parsnips for one person to eat, result of a rather ill-fated decision to succumb to red ‘reduced’ stickers and three half-opened pots of cream. So although I am in the mood for a stew, or a casserole, I am being good and sticking to my ‘use everything up first’ mantra. Which means that even if I am eating something relatively unhealthy, like this risotto, I can still feel the virtuous glow of thrift.
I have written about this recipe, from Delicious magazine, before on a different blog but I want to include it here because it really is a step-changer. Risotto usually involves stirring and therefore a lot of time. This method cuts out both of those; in fact I started making it at 7.25, it went into the oven at 7.45 and I was eating it at 8.05. It’s not quite as creamy as the stirred version but, honestly, it’s so close that unless you are a real aficionado, or Italian, you won’t mind or even notice the difference. I have stirred enough risotti in my time and I would rather have those twenty minutes to do something else. What’s more, and this is the real gain for me, this recipe turns a dish that I resist making because of the effort involved into one I make regularly because it’s fast and easy; that to me is a perfect solution.
For two generous portions you will need:
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
unsalted butter, 30-40g
olive oil, ½ tablespoon (or 1 dessertspoon)
white onion, ½
chicken or vegetable stock, 700ml (fresh or from a cube)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
risotto rice (arborio or carnaroli), 200g
dry white wine (dry sherry or vermouth will work too), 90ml
blue cheese, 75-100g
Parmesan (or Grana Padano), 25-50g
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (or 160°C for a fan-assisted oven)/gas 4.
2. Melt half the butter and all the olive oil in a lidded casserole dish (something like a Le Creuset is ideal) over a gentle heat.
3. Whilst the butter and oil are melting, peel and chop the onion and garlic and, if necessary, make up the stock with hot water. If using fresh/ready-made stock, heat it up gently in a small casserole.
4. Soften the onion and garlic in the butter and oil for five minutes. Meanwhile trim the leek, rinse it and chop it finely then add it to the garlic and onions. Stir well and soften the lot for another five minutes.
5. Add the rice and stir it into the vegetables to coat all the grains with the buttery juices.
6. Add the wine or sherry, turn up the heat a little and stir until the wine is completely absorbed/evaporated.
7. Add the hot stock, mix into the rice, season and bring to the boil.
8. Cover with a lid and put in the oven to bake for about 20 minutes until the rice is tender. It is ready when the liquid has evaporated. You can tell this by stirring the rice: if it is too wet and sloppy put it back in the oven for a few minutes.
9. Just before the time is up, finely grate the Parmesan and chop the blue cheese into small pieces.
10. When the rice is done, take it out of the oven, stir in the cheeses and the rest of the butter, cover for a minute or two off the heat to let the cheese melt in then season and serve.