Why is everyone so scared of making risotto? Is it the perceived hard work involved? Or the fear of failure? I'm not sure, but no one I know outside a professional kitchen, who is not Italian, willingly embarks on a risotto. It's such a shame because a risotto can turn any old leftovers into a magnificent dish fit for a king.
Please don't be worried by this dish - OK, so you need to do a bit of stirring - but haven't you all got staff to do that anyway? Joking aside, once you actually get into it, it's quite therapeutic. You can listen to a podcast of your favourite radio show (since you asked, mine is BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs) or chat with a friend while your rice turns into a magical, creamy, flavoursome dish.
With risotto, as with so many other things in life, you get out of it what you put in. And I don't mean in terms of ingredients.Obviously, if you put a mushroom in when you start, it will be there when you come to eat it, unless you have very fast mushroom-eating rodents in your kitchen. What I am talking about is the love and care you give the risotto, which means the stirring needs to be done with thought. Please don't just thrash around and hope for the best. You see, it's like children; the ingredients are all there but it's how you nurture them that counts.
Before you tuck in, leave it for two minutes, with a lid on so that you don't lose heat. This means the cheese, butter, oil and all the other ingredients will have a chance to meld.
If you feel your risotto lacks oomph, then add some more Parmesan as this will spice it up no end. You can use this recipe as a base for all sorts of other risottos. Two of my favourites alongside the chicken one detailed here are pumpkin risotto and rocket risotto. The latter is the easier one; just throw in loads of Parmesan and rocket leaves a few minutes before serving. The pumpkin needs cooking beforehand, and tastes even better with some fresh rosemary or thyme.
I hope my little ramblings have inspired you to cast fear aside and try a risotto. You won't regret it.
MAKE IT YOURSELF
Lemon risotto with corn-fed chicken and foie gras sauce
1.5l vegetable stock
20ml olive oil
200g (1 large) white onion, chopped
560g Carnaroli risotto rice
20ml lemon juice
20g parsley, chopped
120g Parmesan cheese
120g mascarpone cheese
2g crushed black pepper
120g foie gras
100ml veal jus
28g crème fraîche
200g x 8 cornfed chicken breast
Salt and pepper to taste
10g chives, chopped
1. Bring the vegetable stock to simmer in a stockpot over medium heat. Keep hot.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a pan, then sauté the chopped white onions until soft, not brown.
3. Add the risotto rice to the pan with the onions, and gradually add vegetable stock until the rice achieves al dente consistency, about 18-20 minutes total.
4. Preheat over to 180°C .
5. Finish the risotto by adding lemon juice, butter, parsley, Parmesan and mascarpone. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Slice the foie gras into small pieces and cook in a pan over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Pour off excess fat and then add the veal jus and crème fraîche. Blend the sauce, strain and adjust the seasoning.
6. Season the chicken breasts, sear in a pan over medium-high heat and cook for 10 minutes in preheated oven. Slice each into a fan shape.
Divide the lemon risotto among eight plates, place the sliced chicken breast on the middle of each and top with the foie gras sauce. Garnish with chopped chives.