Wolfgang Puck once said 'Italian Food Is all about ingredients and it's not fussy or fancy. I haven't read anything that I agree with more, that is one of the reasons that I love Italian food. The simplicity of it means that there really is nowhere to hide. Our Gatsby Classic (Margherita Pizza ) is the perfect example of this. However enough about our Pizzas!! One of our other favourite Italian dishes is Risotto! Everyone seems to be scared of making it but like most recipes, it is all about the confidence! Be confident, and have confidence in the recipe you have chosen to follow. One thing I can say about risotto trust me it is worth the stirring.
What is amazing about Risotto is that it is so versatile, it can be as simple or fancy as your dinner requires. It can either be a main meal, a starter or even a side dish. If I haven't already convinced you, people who haven't tried making it will be in awe of your culinary skills! The recipe below is a basic parmesan and butter risotto, however I have given you seasonal and delicious ideas below on how to 'pimp' your risotto. If you still aren't convinced on the cooking, there is an amazing Italian restaurant in Ampthill called Fratellis. It isn't just their risotto that is amazing, so go there and let us know what you think!
Basic Risotto Recipe
200g Arborio Risotto Rice
2 Knorr Chicken Stock Pots (or other stock but this is my fave)
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Diced Medium Onion (I use Red or White depending on what I have in!)
2 Crushed Cloves of Garlic
50ml White Wine
Knob of Butter
Salt and Pepper
1. Start by adding the Olive Oil to your saucepan, place on a medium heat and add your onions and garlic. Cook for around 15 minutes or until the onions are soft and translucent. Boil the kettle and add the chicken stock and boiling water to another saucepan and leave to simmer away.
2. Add the Arborio Rice and stir until all of the onions and garlic are combined, then add the wine. Once the rice has absorbed all of the wine start adding the stock one ladle at a time, make sure you continually stir the risotto, this breaks down the starch and is the key to a good risotto!
3. Once the rice has absorbed the stock continue adding the stock a ladle at a time until it has all gone. If the rice is still not cooked through then you can add some boiling water. Once your happy with the consistency of the rice (there should be NO crunch in the grain) remove from the heat.
4. Add half the Butter, Parmesan and stir until combined. Place the lid onto the saucepan and put onto a low heat for 2 minutes, this is the key to a gooey risotto. Remove from the heat add the rest of the butter and season to your taste. I LOVE my risotto peppery so amp up the Black Pepper.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Crispy Pancetta - Chop the squash into small chunks season with rosemary, chilli flakes and Garlic and Roast for 1 hour. Cook your pancetta to crispy perfection then chop into small chunks. If you don't want to fry the sage then chop finely and add to the squash before roasting. Add to the risotto just before you add the butter and parmesan.
Lemony Chicken and Pea Risotto - Use leftover Roast Chicken or Chicken Breast in small chunks, If using the breast then add when you begin cooking the onions, I use Frozen Peas and add just before the stock has run out so they have time to cook through but not become soggy! Zest a quarter of a lemon and add with the parmesan and butter. You can also add a sprinkle of Rocket on top as well.
Prawn and Cherry Tomatoes - Cook the prawns separately and add to the risotto just before the parmesan and butter. Leave the tomatoes raw or slowly cook them with the prawns.
Wild Mushrooms - Perfect for your veggie friends and trust me you won't miss the meat. I use the mix of normal chestnut or closed cup mushrooms with the dried wild mushrooms you can easily find in supermarkets. Cook the fresh mushrooms along with the onions and garlic. Soak the dried Wild Mushrooms in boiling water, this can be used for stock as well, add the mushrooms once they have soaked for the correct time. If serving for Veggie guests make sure that you replace the chicken stock with vegetable and make sure that the cheese is veggie friendly.
Another great recipe to check out is from Save with Jamie Recipe Book, Stuffed Peppers with Baked Risotto .
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