It’s been a week (and a half; sorry!) of new discoveries and old favourites around here and I have lots to catch up on. About ten days ago my friend Ingrid made me a perfect winter dinner of haricot beans and sausages, followed by pear and chocolate crumble; despite having two small children and a job she still managed to send me the recipes the next morning before I’d even got up. The beans, cooked with cream, thyme and red onions, were amazing and the crumble perfect. Suffice to say I ate too much of both but I bet you will too once I put the recipes up.
Then, last weekend, I spent ages mulling the qualities of various recipes after my neighbour, who is no fan of cooking, asked me what to do with a chicken. Fat or no fat, fast or slow, poach or roast…I ended up trying a favourite poaching recipe which went horribly wrong and it made me think that actually the lemons-no-fat-Marcella-Hazan (I think) version I’ve used for years is the best. That recipe to follow too.
Finally, I’ve always resisted the gurus, like Delia, who tell me that baked risotto tastes as good as the ‘stand-by-the-cooker-and-stir-for-Italy’ version but last week I bought a copy of Delicious magazine for just such a recipe. It had a feature on one-pot dishes (my saviour, since I hate washing-up), one of which was a leek and blue cheese risotto. I halved the recipe, added a bit more butter than suggested and I think it’s as good. And, since you’re not tied to the cooker for more than ten minutes, it’s a great after-work version too. Please forgive the lack of photos and enjoy.
Baked Leek and Blue Cheese Risotto (adapted from Delicious magazine)
For two generous portions you will need:
30-40g of unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 leek, washed and chopped (the magazine’s picture has elegant on-the-bias slices; mine were just, er, thin and straight)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
200g arborio rice
90ml dry white wine
700ml of good chicken stock, hot (I used some I’d made from the disastrous poached chicken carcass and it was really good, jelly-like in its concentration; I think it makes a difference to have the real thing for this)
75-100g of blue cheese, chopped into cubes (I used Roquefort because I like strong cheese and I’ve put a variable amount because only you know how cheesy you like it)
25-50g of Parmesan (Grana Padano or Pecorino work too), grated
(The recipe also includes a few sprigs of thyme but doesn’t use them and neither did I.)
1. Preheat the oven to 180C (or 160C for a fan-assisted oven)/gas 4.
2. Melt half the butter and all the olive oil in a lidded casserole dish (something like a Le Creuset) over a gentle heat then soften the onion in it for five minutes, then add the leeks and garlic and soften the lot for another five minutes.
3. Meanwhile, put the chicken stock in another saucepan and heat until just simmering but not boiling (I realised at this point that it was not quite a one-pot recipe…).
3. Add the rice and stir it into the softened veg so that all the grains are covered with the buttery juices and veg.
4. Add the wine, turn up the heat a little and stir until the wine is completely absorbed/evaporated.
5. Add the hot stock, mix into the rice, season and bring to the boil.
6. Cover with a lid and put in the oven to bake for about 20 minutes until the rice is tender. The recipe says 25 minutes in the oven but since I halved the quantities I went for 15 and then added another five.
7. Stir in the cheeses and the rest of the butter, season and serve.