I’ve been making risotto a fair bit recently, and my partner has been taking the leftovers in to work. This has corresponded in an increased request rate for the recipe (or slightly less tasty-smelling lunches, I imagine!). To satisfy the requirement, I went looking for this recipe on the old slowfoodadventures blog but couldn’t find the original writeup. Luckily, the photos exist, so I shall attempt to make some sense of them for you, and for the hungry co-workers 😉
You’ll need, at the very least, some Arborio rice, some stock, and some flavouring ingredients. Use at least three cups of liquid to every cup of rice. We use Arborio rice because it is a high-starch rice that creates that lovely creamy texture we expect from risotto. Here, I have one cup of arborio, three cups of chicken stock (I make my own stock, but if you’re not so inclined, grab the low sodium variety, especially if you’re using high salt ingredients like a bought chicken, and consider watering it down a little), and half a cup of white wine. I also have a little wild rice, just to make it look a little more awesome.
For flavouring, I have a whole bought BBQ chicken (I also regularly use diced chicken breast, which works just as well and is much cheaper. However, the texture of a bought chicken is much more tender in the final product), three chorizo sausages, a leek, some asparagus, and a whole bunch of Italian parsley. You will probably also want some minced garlic, and maybe some chilli. If you’re not using leek, I would also recommend a finely diced onion.
Some other great ingredients for risotto are prawns (buy them green, and sizzle them off with the onion and other ingredients until they have just changed colour), roast pumpkin (dice it into 1cm cubes, lay it out on a biscuit tray, spray it with a little canola oil and sprinkle with some paprika and Italian herbs, then roast at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until the pumpkin starts to colour nicely. Throw them into the risotto right at the end), any variety of spicy, fatty sausage (treat the same as the chorizo in this recipe), and any quick-cooking vegetables like broccollini, bamboo shoots, asparagus spears, or baby corn can be thrown in right at the end.
Many recipes call for heating the stock before you add it to the rice, and while I never used to bother, I have started doing this. You can do it most easily in a large jug in the microwave, or if you’re a purist, you can put it in a saucepan on the stove, with a few strands of saffron for wankiness, and bring it to the boil. Once it’s boiling, drop the heat to keep it simmering slowly (you don’t want it all to disappear in steam though, so keep the lid on!). Or you could just not. It’ll take a little longer, but otherwise be fine.
OK, so wild rice takes an absolute age to cook, so you need to get that started early if you’re using it. Put a small saucepan of water on to boil.
Always rinse wild rice really well. Put the rice into a sieve and run it under the tap, gently moving your fingers though the rice.
Now to our chook. If you bought your chook hot, let it sit sealed in its bag on the bench (if the weather is warm, pop it in the fridge or in a cool area, of course) until it cools down enough to handle. When you pull it out of its bag, you will probably find there are a lot of juices left behind. Don’t waste them, they’re tasty! Tip them into a jug, and we’ll use it as part of the liquid component later on.
So, grab your chook out, and lay it breast-side up on a chopping board.
First of all, you need to pull the legs back away from the body, which leaves us with this vaguely raunchy image …
Children! Avert your eyes!
Take the legs off, and put them aside for now. We’ll come to them.
To remove the breasts, lay your hands flat along the breasts, on either side of the breastbone, with your thumbs pointing towards the wings. Then press down gently with the heel of your hands first, and move the pressure up towards your thumbs. The breasts should just pop off either side, like this.
We won’t be using the stuffing, so feed it to the children or the cat (or save it for sandwiches, if you’re into that kind of thing).
You then just need to go through all the pieces of chicken, and seperate the meat from the skin and the bones.
I then throw the skin and bones along with the empty carcass into the slow cooker with a carrot, an onion, and a bouquet garni. Fill it up with water, cook it slowly overnight and you have more stock, with which you can make … more risotto! Of course, you could just be like most people, and throw it out too. Each to their own, I guess.
The meat is what’s going to go into our risotto. Put it aside for a moment, we’ll come back to it.
Slice each chorizo in half, and then slice it up.
I love chorizo.
Remove the outside layer of the leek, especially if it’s a bit wilted looking.
Chop the leek off just before where it turns into a darker green colour.
And chop off the hairy end, too.
Slice it in half lengthways.
And then go ahead and slice it up.
With asparagus, don’t head for your knife straight away.
Just bend each spear gently between two hands. It will snap naturally at the place where it goes from crisp to kinda wilted.
Then use your knife to cut them into manageable pieces.
Now for the parsley!
Give it a rough chop to begin with.
And then cross-cut a few times to make it finer. I find cutting fresh herbs with a chef’s knife perfectly carthartic. Everyone should try this at least once in their life.
OK, let’s get this risotto happening! Grab your big saucepan, pop it over a moderately high heat, and throw in some good quality extra virgin olive oil.
As soon as the oil is hot, throw the chorizo in. We want all their fatty goodness to start coming out.
Pop a folded paper towel in the bottom of a plate or bowl. We’re going to transfer our chorizo to this, and we want the paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
As soon as the chorizo is browned, use tongs to pick them out of the saucepan and onto your waiting plate.
We now have lovely paprika- and olive-scented oil floating in our pan.
Throw the diced leek (or onion, if you’re using that instead) into the hot oil.
And add in the herbs. You’ll also want to throw in a good dollop (about four cloves’ worth) of minced garlic here.
Stir well, until the leek is soft, and the herbs are starting to smell amazing.
Add in the arborio.
Stir it well, so that the oil covers the rice.
And then add the first half a cup of the liquid. If you’re using wine, use that first (and no more than half a cup, or it overpowers the other flavours), otherwise go straight for your stock. Note also that there’s no need to be totally anal about measuring the liquid, either, as long as you have a rough idea. I just use a small jug to scoop out something close to half a cup at a time.
Stir until the wine has completely simmered off.
And then add another half a cup of liquid (on to the stock now).
Stir until it’s all absorbed again.
After you have added the first two cups of liquid, in half cup lots, and stirring well until it’s absorbed in between each addition, we can relax a little. Dump in the rest of the liquid, and give it a good stir to distribute the ingredients evenly in the saucepan. Then, pop a piece of foil over the top of the pan, and squeeze the lid on top of the foil. This makes a nice tight seal, so that our liquid doesn’t simmer off into the atmosphere, but stays in the pan and absorbs into the rice. Set your kitchen timer for twelve minutes and don’t open the lid!
When you come back to your saucepan, take the lid and the foil off really carefully. Steam burns hurt, OK? Give it a good stir, and if there’s not much liquid left in the pot, give it about half a cup of water so we can finish it off. Then, throw in whatever ingredients you have that need just a little cooking before they’re done, like asparagus or other green vegetables.
My wild rice is finally cooked. You can tell it’s cooked, by the way the grains have burst open and spilled their guts.
Drain them, and then add them into the risotto.
And, finally, we’re back to our chicken.
Plop it all out onto the cutting board, and give it a few broad cuts with your knife, to turn it into about a coarse dice.
And then add it into the mix.
You can also add back the chorizo now.
Mix it all up, and adjust the liquid as needed. Add a little, or simmer it off a bit, whatever is required.
Have a taste, and grind in a little pepper if you think it needs it. If you’ve used homemade stock, and haven’t used a bought chicken (or other high-salt ingredients), you might want to add a pinch of salt too.Then it’s time to whack it all out into bowls, and top it with some parmesan.