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Tuesday, 14 September 2010


Matt here,

Risotto is a favourite of ours and a regular, despite its rather long-winded preparation. It's very easy to experiment with and I've always found it to be rather forgiving. I really am very fond of risotto, the ingredients are so simple (stock + rice + stirring = lovely meal) and yet the result is so elegant. There's something comforting about the whole process, to me the stirring is never a chore.
I find that the recipe takes about an hour, from raw ingredients to plate, I suppose you could bash it out in 40 minutes but why not savour the process? Savour it with a glass of wine, throw a glass in the risotto if you fancy it (probably stick to a white wine for this).

This is a good example of how I generally make risotto. I suppose that it's based on a Slater recipe from his 30 minute cook (the first cookbook I bought myself I think, and a great introduction to getting highly edible results on a weekday evening). I've now internalised it and jigged it to my tastes. The chicken is my addition, and the quantities and method are a little meddled with. The thigh meat is important (it actually tastes like chicken) as is the large amount of butter. Don't skimp on the seasoning, it takes a lot, especially if you use the unsalted marigold. The only other thing I'd add is that the liquid take up of rice can vary, if the rice is ready, don't add all the stock. If you've added all the stock and the rice is still a bit too chalky, put the kettle on and keep going with water.

If you've never tried making risotto before, do it tomorrow.

Ingredients (serves 2, generously):
300g Arborio rice
50g Butter
500ml Chicken Stock (mid week, I can't be bothered with home-made stock, this was bought from Waitrose)
500ml unsalted Marigold vegetable stock (much cheaper than another 500ml chicken stock)
1 Onion
3 Chicken thighs (boned)
50g Parmigiano Reggiano
Some more butter (~10g)
More salt than you'd expect


  1. Fry the chicken in butter until it is just about cooked through and nice and golden on the outside. Whilst doing this finely dice the onion.
  2. Remove the chicken and leave to rest. Add the onion to the pan and soften (I've read recipes saying  that you can do this in 5 minutes at a high heat but I think this is wrong, the bitter burnt onion taste carries through the rice and isn't pleasant. I say 10-15 minutes on a lowish heat. The real test is to try some and see if it is a) soft and b) has a sweeter taste and doesn't taste like raw onion).
  3. Whilst the onion is cooking, set up a saucepan and pour in the stock, heat it to a simmer. Also, you can weigh the rice and clean up any mess.
  4. Once soft, stir in the rice, making sure that it is all coated in the butter. Add two ladles of the stock and stir.
  5. When the stock is taken up, add another ladle of stock and keep stirring. Keep going, tasting the rice every couple of minutes or so. I enjoy the process here, you can really feel the rice start to give up its starch and take on the flavour of the stock.
  6. Once the majority of the stock has been added, slice the chicken into little bite-size lumps and grate the cheese. 
  7. Stir in the chicken when there are about two more ladlefuls of stock to go to heat it back up. Once the rice is nice - little nibbles of texture in a rich velvety sauce - cut the heat and add the cheese and some butter, lots of butter is also good. 
  8. Season (heavily) to taste. 
  9. Stir for all you're worth, then some more. Leave the risotto a few minutes (not sure why, everyone recommends it though).
  10. Serve up, shave some cheese over and a little drizzle of good olive oil. You'll want two bowls with a third of the risotto in each. This leaves enough for respectable second helpings, very important! 

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