Risotto heaven

Risotto is an old favourite from my restaurant days, it’s such a classic dish and one that lends itself well to all times of year and many, many seasonal veg.  This version is not technically vegetarian as I’ve used chicken stock, but you can use veg stock, I just like the lick smacking effect of a really good chicken stock here.  The red wine is a twist in place of white, since I was faced with only having a bottle of red open and knocking about rather than white, (Middle Class problems….) but it turns the risotto a lovely blush pink.

You will need:

White onion
Risotto rice (allow a small cupful per person, remember that the rice expands when you cook it)
Broad beans
Chicken stock
A slug of red wine

Blanch the asparagus and the broad beans in boiling salted water for a few minutes, then cool them down in some cold water.  When the broad beans are cool enough to handle, remove the outer pod by pinching the end and popping out the green bean.

You can buy fresh chicken stock in most good supermarkets these days but it is very easy to make your own basic version and it makes all the difference to a good risotto, so don’t be tempted to use a stock cube. This is a great way to use up your carcass from a Sunday roast or freeze them and then make a big batch of stock in one go. To make the stock, roughly chop some carrot, onion, celery, chuck in a few tomatoes if you like, some bay leaves and thyme and cook in a pan with some oil until they start to colour slightly.  Then add the chicken carcass and water to cover.   When it has come up to the boil, turn it down and keep skimming off the fat that comes to the top.  Then leave it on a gentle simmer for about one to two hours; strain and discard the bones and veg.  You can freeze stock and use it whenever you need it.

To make the risotto, finely chop the white onion and garlic and soften in a pan for a few minutes gently with a knob of butter, season with a pinch of salt & pepper. Now add the rice and cook fast until it becomes transparent.  Deglaze with a slug of red wine, it should make a wonderful sizzling sound at this point.   Now add a ladle of warm stock and stir constantly until all the liquid is absorbed before adding the next ladle of stock, cook in this way until the rice is just al dente.  Allow about 1 pint of stock for two people, you can always add water if you don’t have quite enough, or use the water from cooking the asparagus and beans but make sure that whatever liquid you add is warm.

Finally, add the asparagus and broad beans.  Check for seasoning.  Finish with a generous knob of butter, some freshly grated parmesan and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Leave the risotto to rest for a minute or so before eating.