I’ve had quite a few new people join my blog since I started doing the Friday Challenges in January so I wanted to give a little recap before I go into March’s theme. You can see my initial idea here. I wanted to push myself to expand on skills I was already building and also try brand new techniques and ingredients. After reading loads of food blogs I realised there were so many things I had never cooked before and that had to be changed!!! I started with Tofu, then Polenta and now I am going to have a month making risotto.
I’ve chosen Risotto to be March’s Friday challenge because I have two risotto recipe’s I’ve cooked over and over again – mushroom risotto and butternut squash risotto – so I wanted to learn abit more about this dish, how it should actually be cooked, different techniques and flavour combinations and also to show that it can be very interesting and complex when done well!
When I was in France I flicked through my mums Jamie’s Italian Cookbook and found this recipe and knew it would be a perfect start to my Risotto challenge. I’m a massive fan of Jamie’s cooking and the way he transforms simple ingredients into beautiful food – this is no exception! I also liked this because he doesn’t use cream – being lactose intolerant I can cope with a bit of cheese but no cream thankyou! This recipe can be found here and the book can be bought from here.
Ok so on with the review – This technique is probably the most common way to cook risotto and it works by gently frying some of the fresh ingredients, then adding the rice and then adding one ladel of stock at a time. You wait untill the stock has been absorbed and then you add another ladel of stock etc untill the rice is cooked (You should have soft rice but still with a bit of bite.)
The recipe requires a lot of stirring and I have to admit I was stood over the pan for far longer than I wanted to be! I did end up drinking a large glass of the wine Id bought to go in the risotto whilst I was cooking it so sorry if my photos are blurry haha!
The things I did like about this way of cooking risotto is that you feel like your really building up a great dish, you care for it and nurture it with gentle stirring and a build up of flavours. The addition of fennel is just lovely and I liked the kick of chilli! Jamies looks a lot more colourful than mine so not sure what I missed but it still tasted great.
I think how you like your risotto can be a personal preference, some like it creamy, others a bit stiffer but I tried to just cook the rice al dente but with the sauce quite gooey. I found that if I ran my wooden spoon through the pan and the sauce oozed back into the centre then the rice slowly followed that was a good sign!
What have I learnt about Risotto?
Unlike Tofu and Polenta I had a better expectation of risotto because it’s an ingredient I have worked with before however I have always approached it with caution. I think what I have learnt this time is that adding ingredients in at different times can create layers of texture and make it abit more interesting. Also don’t be afraid to use big flavours and be original with it as long as you respect the concept of a risotto I don’t think you can go too wrong 🙂
Next Week I am making a Delia Smith recipe and hers is a baked risotto – no stirring yay!