Main Dish

Spring Risotto

2014_0621_21320800Is there something like ‘Science of Risotto-making?’ There are so many ways it can be made: in the oven, continuously stirred, stirred now and then, not stirred at all. Some people are even talking about ‘massaging’ the rice…So what’s the best option? Seriously, I don’t know but I found a way it works really well and I figured out some of the major problems, so if you are looking for some inspiration & advise on making a risotto you might want to have a look at my ‘golden risotto rules’ at the end of this blog post. The star of this risotto is the wild garlic, it’s very seasonal and only growing for a short period of time, so it’s time to cook something with it NOW.  The good thing about it is, that it really tastes garlicy but the consequences are less drastic than the common garlic cloves. At least that’s my impression and I hope I am right as I went to the dentist after shooting and eating this dish..

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For 2 portions you need:

  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • a big chunk of a celeriac bulb
  • 125 g risotto rice (Arborio…)
  • 100 ml white wine
  • about 600 ml vegetable stock (instant)
  • 1/2 fennel
  • 1 small apple
  • 120 g peas (frozen)
  • 7-10 leaves of wild garlic (Bärlauch)
  • 30-40 g Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • a tablespoon of butter (optional)
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Take the peas out of the freezer, peel the veggies and chop the onion & the celeriac into really fine and the fennel & the apple into a bit bigger pieces. Peel and half the garlic clove. Grate the parmesan. Take the fennel green and the wild garlic and chop roughly. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pot over low heat. Add the chopped onion, celeriac & garlic and braise them lightly until golden brown. Meanwhile boil a bit more than 600 ml of water and make the vegetable stock. Add the rice and stir for a minute without any added liquid until the rice is coated with oil and mixed well with the veg.

Pour the white wine into the pot and let the rice absorb it fully. Stir carefully from time to time. This should happen over medium heat but depending on your cooker maybe also at an even lower temperature. Find the clove of garlic and take it out. When there’s no wine left in the pot and the rice is about – and only about – to stick to the pot’s bottom, add a ladle of vegetable stock at a time and again stir & wait until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this step until there’s no liquid left or until the rice is cooked.

But what about the fennel, the apple & the peas? The fennel can be mixed in halfway through the process, the apple 10 minutes and the peas 5 minutes before the risotto is cooked. In with the peas go the fennel green & the wild garlic. Of course you can vary this timing – but I like the fennel & the apple still firm as it creates a texture difference.

Last thing: Turn off the heat and add the grated parmesan and a knob of butter. Stir until combined, put the lid on the pot and let set for 5 minutes.

Serve with some fennel green and parmesan on top.

For a vegan option simply leave out parmesan & butter.

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Some important things when cooking a risotto – my golden risotto rules:

  • I sometimes ignore this and end up with a big mess:  Be organised: it’s easier if you have everything ‘mise en place’ – that means have everything next to your cooking place, already chopped & prepared. It’s important to give your whole attention to the risotto.
  • Make sure the risotto is only simmering and not boiling. The idea of a risotto is the slow absorption of liquid by the rice – if it happens too quickly more liquid evaporates than is being absorbed and it’s likely to burn.
  • Sometimes it’s a bit hard to tell if the rice is ready. It should be soft but still with some bite in the middle.The easiest way is to try a few grains..
  • Give the risotto its time to set. It will be much yummier after being left alone for those 5 minutes – also it’s very tempting to eat it immediately.
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