Sunday, May 2, 2010

Pepper Risotto

If I were to choose my favourite risotto it would be a toss up between saffron and tomato. There is something about primary colours and risotto you see... But this evening I tried something I had in mind for a while, that is a variation of the classic red risotto, for the base was not just celery and onion but pepper too. It was lovely, especially as I did the mantecatura with a nice red yolk, a teaspoon of mascarpone and one of crème fraîche. A great culinary end to an otherwise non descript Bank Holiday Sunday, with clouds low in a sky and a really nippy wind wafting from the north.

You’ll need:

Serves 3-4 or maybe just 2 if very hungry

350g Arborio rice
a fistful of basil leaves
a small red pepper
200g of chopped tomatoes (tinned or in a carton... that sort of thing)
one egg yolk
a teaspoon of mascarpone
a teaspoon of crème fraîche
a small stick of celery
a small onion
sea salt

You’ll do it like so:

Chop the pepper, stick of celery and small onion into tiny pieces and then attack it with the mezzaluna for as long as you can bear. Remember that this is supposed to be the base of your risotto; you ain’t supposed to find big chunks of pepper in it so weild the mezzaluna for a good while. Now add a glug of oil to your pan set on high heat and fry the basil leaves in it.

Soon after, add the celery, pepper and onion (which at this point is called the soffritto, if you care to know) and stir with a wooden spoon for a scant minute or so. Add the dry rice, stir quickly, add half a carton of chopped tomatoes and stir again.

Now lower the heat to low (but not so low that it stops simmering...) and add some boiling water. I know that ‘some boiling water’ is hardly descriptive but, really, bear in mind that the rice is supposed to cook slowly for about 20 to 25 minutes. I keep my kettle ready for action as I am stirring and see that the pan is drying out. The point here is, don’t let it dry out, but continue adding boiling water (and check for salt too) every time the rice absorbs it.

After a good 20 minutes the rice will be just about ready. Get your egg yolk into a glass and add the mascarpone and crème fraîche to it. Stir quickly and pour it into the risotto, stirring well and giving it a last blast of heat on the stove. Now serve it in bowls with a dusting of Parmesan and two leaves of basil for a little decorative flair. Done to death, I know, but I love the green-on-red all the same...
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