This evening we’re covering risotto technique. Italians broadly fall into two camps: the flippers and the stirrers. Some argue that a risotto must be constantly massaged to develop its creaminess, whilst others (the head chef at the Bulgari hotel in Milan for one) advocate flipping the rice in the pan whilst cooking. We’ve gone for stirring as there is less chance of covering the walls, but flip it if you dare!
Vegetable Stock Pot(ContainsCelery, Sulphites)
Hard Cheese (Italian Style)(ContainsMilk, Egg)
Bring the water (amount specified in the ingredient list) to a gentle simmer in a saucepan, add the vegetable stock pot and stir until dissolved. TIP: Leave the stock on the lowest heat throughout cooking. Remove the top and bottom from the leek, cut in half lengthways and thinly slice into half moons. Peel and grate the garlic. Halve the shallot, peel and slice into very thin half moons.
Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan on medium heat, be careful - they burn easily! Remove and keep to one side. Melt half the butter and a splash of olive oil in a large saucepan on medium-low heat. Add the leek, garlic and shallot to the pan. Slowly stew for 5 mins until soft. TIP: Do not let these ingredients burn - if they are cooking too fast, add a splash of water and turn the heat to low.
Add the rice to the saucepan and mix well to coat it in the butter and olive oil. Turn the heat to medium, add a pinch of salt and stir. TIP: After about 3 mins there should be a slight translucency around the edges of the rice. TIP: If you have some leftover white wine, add half a glass now and let the alcohol bubble off for a minute to mellow the flavour!
Add a ladle of stock to your rice and stir it with long, massaging motions. Once the stock is almost absorbed, add another ladle and continue stirring. TIP: Risotto does need a bit of attention but the resulting flavour is worth it! Continue adding the stock and stirring as above for around 20 mins. Add the peas in the last 5 mins.
When the risotto is almost ready, add the hard Italian cheese. TIP: The risotto is ready when the rice is cooked through but has a tiny bit of firmness left in the middle.
Stir in the remaining butter and test for seasoning. Add more salt and some black pepper to taste. Serve in bowls. Sprinkle the pine nuts and the remaining cheese on top and gobble!