Wednesday, 2 February 2011

A Risotto Mama wouldn't be proud of

I don't like people who moan about the weather, this is England, this is winter. It is going to be cold and dark, and sporadically wet, usually all at the same time. However, it is even starting to get to me, I consider myself very pro-England, I like the change of seasons and our beautiful countryside, and I genuinely believe if we had amazing weather all the time then we wouldn't appreciate Mr Sun putting his hat on, however briefly over the summer months. Not wanting to get out of bed in the morning for fear of freezing to death when I run down the death stairs (v. steep and shallow even with my size 4.5 feet) into the shower is getting tedious. I will ignore the fact that I am equally reluctant in the warmer months...

One advantage of all this cold weather is that I can take food out of the freezer and leave on the side to defrost, without the niggling worry of the possibility of it getting a bit warm and harbouring some nasty bugs, which I do think about in summer months. I can never remember to swap freezer for fridge before bed, so always take the gamble. But in winter, I don't know why we bother with a fridge its so cold. I returned from work to find the little bit of smoked haddock on the side, and on discovering a slightly manky leek at the back of the fridge (leeks are cool, you can keep peeling until no longer manky) it had to be smoked haddock and leek risotto. I even had chicken stock from Sunday's roast ready. Euurgh how prepared? The following recipe serves 2.

Half and slice one leek (washing to remove any soil etc) and cook gently in butter and olive oil until softened. At the same time place a piece of smoked haddock (approx 200g, you don't need much) in a dish, cover with boiling water and cover with cling film for 10 minutes. When fish is cooked, removed from the water, remove skin, flake, and put aside. When leeks are really soft add risotto rice (approx 75g per person, I don't normally measure things but with this I have to as its not great cold) and stir to cover in the oil and butter. Add a glass of white wine and stir until absorbed. Then add hot chicken stock, a ladle at a time, until each measure is absorbed. After doing this for about 20 mins it should be done, with a bit of bite, i.e. not mushy but definately not crunchy. I like it a bit juicy too. Season and stir in the haddock with the juice of half a lemon. I added half a sliced cabbage, already blanched, and it worked really well, and had it quite soupy for extra lush factor but it's supposed to have just chopped chives on top which is also delicious. I don't think Mama would approve of this not particularly Italian dish but its not half a good way to deal with a manky leek.

Due to it still being January when I cooked this, I was having a booze free night. Eurgh. The cooking of any risotto is hugely improved by an accompaniment of lashings of wine for the person chained to the hob, resigned to stirring for half an hour, one ladle of stock for the risotto, one glass of wine for chef. The risotto is cooked when chef can't stand up any more.

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