Then July comes. The rain with it and it Just Won't Stop. We're used to rain of course but after a while spent in cagouls, braving the park in the downpour or getting soaked on a short trip to the shops, it all starts to get a bit....well, wet. On top of it all, we are waiting to go camping...methinks the wait will linger a wee bit longer so I'm contemplating tossing us all on to a passing plane and heading for sunnier climes in Italy, France or Cornwall. Any suggestions?
Making risotto is easy; it may not seem it but it really is, as long as you are happy standing at the cooker for 20 minutes because this is how long it takes to cook. You make your stock and have it sitting next to you, still warm and ready to go alongside a glass of wine or champagne.
To begin, gently fry onions and garlic (or whatever else you want to use...mushrooms, celery etc.) in some olive oil and butter until soft. You add in the unwashed rice (I always add in a wee bit extra olive oil just before this) and 'gently fry' by stirring it around the oil for a good few minutes. When it looks like no oil is left and the rice appears translucent, then pour in the wine.
The amount depends on how much risotto you are cooking; approx. 400g/14 oz rice-2 pints of stock- 2 glasses of wine or alcohol like Noilly Pratt.
Stir until all all the wine has been soaked up and then add a ladle of stock and a pinch of salt to the risotto. Stir until all the liquid is soaked up once again and repeat (without the salt!) until the stock has been used up. Take your time, don't rush it; as long as you stir and add in the stock a little at a time, you can't go wrong. It should take approx. 15 minutes.
You must taste it at this point; I prefer the rice to be soft although it is supposed to have a tiny little bite to it and I stop cooking at this stage as it is still to 'mature'; more on that in a moment. If I don't feel the rice is ready by the time the stock runs out, I add in some water from the boiled kettle until it is. Check seasoning.
Remove from the heat and add in a good handful of grated Parmesan alongside a great knob of butter (for the amount of cooked risotto above, approx. 4oz Parmesan and 2oz butter). Stir well.
Now for the maturation! You must put a lid on the pan and leave it to sit for approx. 2-3 minutes. This is when the risotto changes into a wonderful, creamy dish as the butter and Parmesan works it's magic, the rice continues to soften a little and it all matures.
A messy dod of risotto with peas but what a tasty dod it was!
I like to add cooked peas to my risotto alongside another grating of Parmesan and a good grinding of black pepper. Utterly delicious! I always have loads left over and, although purists would be banging their heads off the keyboard at this, I put the remainder in the fridge and use it throughout the week as an accompaniment to dinners; it goes particularly well with roast chicken. Heat up in the microwave for 1 minute. Enjoy.