Saturday, 10 March 2012

R is for... Richard's rocket and Roquefort risotto

Richard is, unquestionably, the reigning king of risotto. I have never tasted risotto as delicious as his and so, in our gaff, risotto-making is almost exclusively his domain. Don't get me wrong, I make a mean risotto, but I'm big enough and ugly enough to concede defeat on this one. I will always come in second in the risotto race, and second just isn't good enough. For this particular dish on R night's menu, I passed the apron over to Richard, who very conveniently also begins with the letter R.

Risotto really does HAVE to be good. There are no variances in flavour or texture in the entire dish, so when risotto isn't great, it can be a painfully dull dining experience, with mouthful after mouthful of the same bland and tiresome gloop. At its best, risotto is a flavour-packed and comforting bowl of hugs, full of warming, homely charm. At its worst, risotto can resemble a tragic block of cement in a bowl. This is usually when it's either been overcooked or, worse, reheated. Leave your leftover risotto for arancini and I'll leave Richard to the risotto.

Over to Richard...

Richard's Roquefort and rocket risotto 

I was only making a small bowl for each person, so this was probably about the right amount for two if serving it as a main.

2 cups of risotto rice
100g roquefort (at least to start off with)
A bag of rocket
1 medium onion
Up to a pint of hot stock (rabbit stock in this instance, as that's what we had, but normally I'd use chicken)
Up to two glasses of white wine
Salt and pepper

Saute the onion, chopped very finely, until it's translucent. Add the garlic, either chopped up small or mashed into a paste, and allow it to cook slowly but not brown. Chop up most of the rocket finely - leaving the best-looking leaves to stick on top of the finished dish - and put it in the pan, Add the rice and stir to get the grains coated in butter. Add about a quarter the stock and a glass of wine, and cook the mixture slowly. Soon, the rice will start to get glutinous, and you'll need to stir it, and keep stirring, to stop it sticking to the bottom. Keep gradually adding stock and wine as the rice absorbs the liquid - and don't feel you need to use the full amount.  After ten minutes or so, the rice will be a bit too al dente to eat: at this point, crumble the roquefort into the mixture and stir to melt it through. Season to taste, remembering that roquefort is a salty cheese, so play it safe. You may want to add more roquefort too. I usually do, but you don't want to overpower it. By now the rice should be ready, a lovely balance between bite and gloop. Put the risotto in bowls, or as we did for a starter, custard pots. Put a few shavings of parmesan and a few rocket leaves on the top of each pot, along with a drizzle of olive oil and a grind of pepper.