It seems there was a risotto-state-of-mind around last weekend. English Mum made what looked like a yummy version for Ma’s Day and the Observer Food Monthly had a recipe in the Sunday magazine which was pretty close to the one I made following my good friend the BBC Good Food site.
I had those lovely leeks to use and wanted to have another go at cooking a risotto. My lovely sister Niamh got me some great pressies at Christmas time, all food related, in anticipation of myself and Niall moving into the new flat. I got a HOIGE pepper mill and a really brilliant risotto set – a great pan, spoon with a hole, some arborio rice and some dried porcini ‘shrooms. I made a mushroom risotto the first time my siblings visited us in the flat and it out worked pretty well. I had tried to make it a few years before to disastrous results so it was kind of like conquering a food fear.
Risotto’s fun to make. It seems a bit intimidating at first because you have to watch it a good bit, but once it sinks in that all you have to do is keep stirring and adding stock and then add 8,000g of butter and 9,845 g of parmesan cheese into it, you realise there’s not too much to it.
What you need for BBC Good Food’s Leek & Parmesan Risotto for two lucky, lucky people
150 g arborio rice
1 glass of white wine
2 leeks, finely chopped, in a very ladylike manner
4 spring onions, like the leeks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
750 ml veg stock
25g Parmesan cheese
25g of butter
1 tbsp olive oil
Bring on the coronary – wwwhhoooooooo!
It’s not for the diet friendly folk among us, but fuck it, it tastes soooo good. And as my dinner guest Jocelyn said, butter is a good fat. It’s our friend. I’m inclined to believe her.
I doubled this recipe – in a way. I was feeding Jocelyn and my little brother Lorcan, and I had four leeks in the fridge. I only had four spring onions though. So I chopped up that amount together, doubled the rice, the garlic, the butter and parmesan (but don’t tell anyone coz that’s really bold) and used around 900ml or maybe more of the veg stock. But I used the same amount of oil and wine. I figured it was better to double the stock rather than the wine.
You melt the oil and half the butter in the pan and add the leeks and spring onions and garlic to it. There’s something so yummy about cooking with butter. I genuinely think vegetables really like it. They look really happy anyway when they’re soaked in butter and just starting to sizzle.
When they’re at that happy stage, pop in your rice and give it a good stir so it’s all coated in oil and butter and leeks and spring onion. Add to the delirium of the veg and throw in the glass of wine. Keep it stirring til the wine is bubbling, and eventually evaporates. Then you just stand over the pan adding about a ladelful of stock until the liquid evaporates, all the while stirring, and keep adding the stock and stirring the rice until it looks and tastes ready. It’ll be about 30 minutes but you’ll definitely know. The description on BBC Good Food was ‘oozy’ and I think that’s a fairly good food landmark to aim for.
When it’s looking nice and oozy, add the parmesan and the other half of the butter. Let’s face it, even if you’ve overcooked the leeks, it doesn’t matter if you put that much butter and cheese into anything – you’re saved. Ommmmmmnomomomnom…
The main difference to the Good Food risotto I made and the Observer Food Monthly* was that the Observer one added a few slices of pancetta to the mix. That would have worked very nicely indeed. Fry the pancetta up in a separate pan and serve them chopped up stirred in to the cooked risotto or just sitting over the top of the risotto like they did in the Observer. I would have most definitely added it if I’d seen the recipe the day before as I was worried the risotto would be slightly bland with just leeks and spring onions. I shouldn’t have worried, it was yum, but the pancetta would have been extra decadent.
All we needed was a Muffin Mountain for dessert!
Myself, Jocelyn and Lorcan listened to a number of things while I cooked and we ate. After the meal and two very yummy bottles of Proseco, we were heading out and I decided to drop some Ponytail on them. Ponytail are a band from Baltimore (yup, same place as Dan Deacon and Animal Collective. I want to go to there.) who specialise in mad, mad art rock. I’ve seen them twice in the last year, both times in Whelan’s of Wexford Street. The singer is this crazy little chick who doesn’t really sing so much as yelp and smile. Check out this video on Niall’s site of them playing live in a laundromat.
If you happen to see that they’re playing a venue near you, please go see them. You’ll be astounded by the crazy face on the lead singer but also by her sheer energy and love of playing as well as the kick ass drummer who plays with no shoes (ouch), the screaming guitar player and the bespeckled other guitar player who sings the only coherent lyrics throughout the whole gig – ‘Oh no! I’m Late for School!!’ This is that track, taken from the aptly named Ice Cream Spiritual, which the band released last year. Go buy.
Ponytail – Late For School – (Ice Cream Spiritual)
* A note on the Observer Food Monthly. I love it very much. (Although Sunday’s wasn’t as good as usual because it was the awards edition and I didn’t know a lot of the British awardees – no doubt there’s lots of great stuff there though. And holy pyjama bottoms, there was a recipe for some amazing looking choccie biccies in there.) I also love the Observer Music Monthly.
I despise the Observer Women’s Monthly and Observer Sport Monthly. Niall is ok with the Food Monthly but he really likes the Music Monthly too. We’ve been buying the Observer on Sunday for about a year or so now but not regularly enough that we know which magazine it will be when we go to the shop. So it’s either like ‘YES! Music Monthly!!!’ or ‘Whoop! Whoop! Food Monthly!’ and off we hop with our breakfast goods or it’s ‘Ah sheeee-it it’s the bleedin’ Women’s Monthly. Handbags and token interviews with female artists – fook off!’ or ‘Sport!!! I haaaate sport!’ etc etc.