Sunday, 6 March 2011

Jules Risotto

I realise this is a little self-indulgent but having experienced the sometimes painful frustration of making good risotto I thought it only right and proper to share my recipe with you. Before you say it, this post absolutely fits within my ‘aesthetically pleasing’ blog theme because it truly is a good looking dish. I hadn’t planned to use my lunch as a blog post so to those cynics amongst you my photographic reference is an accurate representation of this dish. Had I actually thought about it I would have purchased some Parmesan to give a few artistic curls of it to the top! This serves 2 really hungry people or 4 with bread and a side salad.

200g Smoked Lardons (don’t go for Economy, you can always tell the difference)
2 generous tbs Butter/Marg (I use Clover, I don’t think it makes much difference)
1 large glass of white wine (or Rose, I used it when I didn’t have white, worked out fine. Try not to use cheap wine, it really pays to get this bit right.)
4 chicken breasts
1 large onion
150g Shitake Mushrooms (I use organic)
200g Peas (fresh or frozen)
200g Risotto Rice
2 cloves garlic
2 handfuls of Rocket leaves
1 Litre of boiling water with Knorr Chicken Stockpot stirred in it.
Salt and Pepper
Non-stick pot/deep pan/large saucepan (it has to hold all of the ingredients comfortably) and a frying pan
Wooden spoon/spatula.

  1. First thing to do to make sure you keep control of this dish is to prepare everything! Cut the chicken into medium sized chunks, chop the mushrooms in a way that shows their great shapes (i.e. don’t cut off the stalks), slice the onion in half and then slice the halves thinly. Boil the kettle and poor a litre of water into a bowl/jug, add the stockpot, give it a little stir.
  2. In your non-stick pot start to melt the butter on a medium heat, add the onions and a pinch of salt.
  3. In a frying pan put the lardons (no need for oil) on a medium heat, once they look like they are starting to brown turn the heat down to low and add the chicken breast (don't brown). Cook on a low heat, the result should be that by the time you finish the risotto (roughly 20mins) the chicken will be tender and the already partially cooked lardons browned.
  4. Once the onions start to flop a little add the risotto rice so that it absorbs what’s left of the butter. Once the risotto rice has absorbed the butter carefully take only the juice from the frying pan with the chicken and bacon in it and add it to the rice. Stir for a few minutes and then add the glass of wine. Stir. Still on a medium heat.
  5. Once the wine has been nearly all absorbed by the rice start to add the stock a ladle at a time, don’t add too much, this is an important part of the process. Every time your spatula creates a path through the risotto which takes a while to be overlapped by the mixture its time to add another ladle full. Don’t forget to check that your chicken is not overcooking. If its cooked but the lardoons still need browning just put the chicken in some tin foil and turn the heat up on the lardons to brown.
  6. Keep going with the stock until the rice is cooked through and tender to eat, the mixture should have a little excess moisture but not be runny. Please note the stock water needed is roughly a litre, it might be less or slightly more – there is no exact science. If your peas are frozen add them now, for 2 mins of cooking.
  7. Take both pans off the heat and season the risotto to taste.
  8. If your peas are fresh add them now, stir them in. Add the chicken and the lardons, stir. Scatter in the rocket leaves, stirring as you go.
  9. Eat!

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