Risotto: Perfection on a plate
PUBLISHED: 15:03 14 April 2013
Risotto is one of Italy’s culinary classics and for good reason. This famous rice dish embraces many flavours and additions but the rice and technique remains the same to produce the finished masterpiece that is risotto.
Smoked salmon and chorizo risotto
Risotto is usually finished with cheese but with the strong flavours of these ingredients you just don’t need it. The cold smoked salmon is lightly smoked and does need cooking, or you can buy delicious, hot, smoked pieces of salmon or salmon trout from Pinney’s of Orford. In this case you don’t need to cook the salmon first and can flake the fish into the risotto and the end of the cooking to warm through. Smaller filets of smoked trout would also be delicious. This is a fabulous one-pot supper, perfect for spring.
860mls/1½ pints white/fish stock
1 medium onion, finely chopped
30g/1oz butter or 1 tablespoon of Hill Farm rape seed oil
55g Lane Farm chorizo, finely chopped
110g small button mushrooms
200g/7 oz short grain risotto rice, arborio
100mls/ 1 glass dry white wine
55g frozen peas
170g /6oz cold smoked salmon or hot smoked piece of salmon or trout fillets.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chives or flat leaf parsley, chopped
Bring the stock to the boil in a separate pan.
Melt the butter in a heavy pan and sweat the onion for 10 minutes. Remove the onion and add the chorizo and mushrooms. Fry until golden (about 10 minutes), return the onion to the pan.
Add the rice and stir for two minutes, have the pan on a medium heat and add the wine and allow it to evaporate, stirring all the time. Now begin to add the stock in stages. Each ladle of stock should be absorbed before the next is added. Keep stirring and add more stock if necessary.
After 20-25 minutes check to see if the rice is cooked; it should be tender but not soggy. Add the frozen peas when the rice is nearly cooked. Alternatively you could chuck in cooked peas at the end to warm through.
Prepare the fish by flaking the hot smoked salmon or trout, or cook a whole piece of cold smoked salmon by grilling or pan frying for five minutes, depending on the size.
Now stir in the salmon and allow to cook for a few minutes.
Taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, add the herbs and serve.
Serve with a crisp green salad.
To start, a soffritto is made by sweating onions and maybe some garlic in butter and/or olive oil. The rice is then added and coated in the fat to allow each kernel to remain separate for cooking. I always add a glass of wine for depth of flavour. Then a good stock is used in small additions to cook the rice. The stock must be simmering throughout in a separate pan, so as it is added it doesn’t cool the starch in the grains of rice.
The final step to making risotto is called mantecare, which means to vigorously beat butter and cheese into the rice to give it a creamy texture. Last but not least, risotto is always made with a wooden spoon. In Italy, risotto is often served as a first course or as an accompaniment to meats or fish. It needs to be served in a warm dish and eaten immediately. It will not reheat and must be made at the last minute. The short, plump, creamy grains of arborio rice are what make risotto so special. The near constant stirring brings the starch out of the grains to produce the creamy, saucy consistency we expect from risotto. Any cold leftovers can be made into small balls, which can be pane, a French cooking term which means to coat with seasoned flour, beaten egg and white breadcrumbs. These work really well as a starter or as a canapé.
■ This weekend, April 13 and 14, I will be demonstrating in the cookery marquee at The Suffolk Food, Drink & Music Festival at Framlingham College. I’ll be there at around lunchtime: let’s hope for good weather.