There is something very decadent and romantic about Champagne Risotto
Ingredients to make enough to serve 2 moderately hungry people:
25g unsalted butter
1 onion, very finely chopped
1/3 stick of celery, very finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic
135g Arborio risotto rice
225ml champagne / extra dry cava
500ml very good chicken stock
50g grated parmesan
1 handful of chopped herbs – optional (parsley, basil, tarragon are good).
Now put the apron on and start by …
Melting 25g unsalted butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.
Add onions and celery and fry until soft and translucent. Stir in a tiny amount of garlic. I prefer the main aromatic flavour here to be onion and celery, so go easy on the garlic.
Add the rice and stir for 1 minute until all of the grains are coated and shining with butter.
Add 225ml Champagne and simmer until almost all the liquid has evaporated, stirring often.
In a separate pan, have your chicken stock simmering, with a small ladle at the ready.
Add the chicken stock ladle by ladle, waiting until each ladle full has almost been fully absorbed before adding another ladleful. It will take around 18 minutes to cook the whole dish, or until the rice is tender but still firm, stirring often. You may not need all of the stock.
Turn off the heat, stir in 50g freshly grated Parmesan and a knob of butter and put the lid on and leave for 1 minute.
Season to taste and fold in a handful of freshly chopped herbs (parsley, basil, tarragon are good).
Risotto should be served with a ‘wave’, i.e. it should not be a solid lump on the plate, but ooze to the edge of the dish, without being too runny at the same time!
Risotto should always be cooked over a medium heat, a too high heat will cook the outside of the rice grains too quickly and the inside will remain hard and at the same time, a too low heat will leave you with soggy rice.
A Monday night dinner party? What was I thinking?! …. part one.
So I turned to the casserole pot and spent a lazy Sunday slow cooking up a storm, set the goodies aside to improve in flavour overnight and then simply reheated when my guests arrived the next evening.
Ingredients to make enough to serve 6 people who are very hungry:
A 600g piece of pork shoulder. I buy it whole and then butcher it myself into large cubes.
300g chorizo – I like to use a spicy one
2 red onions, sliced
6 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
1 dessertspoon of chili flakes
1 dessertspoon of crushed fennel seeds
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
1 tin of good quality chopped tomatoes – do not use the ones with added herbs in, they are revolting.
1/2 bottle of dry white wine (I drink the rest whilst cooking)
Heat some oil in a 3 litre casserole dish. Add the cubes of pork and brown. You may need to do this in batches so that you don’t overcrowd the pan and end up steaming the pork. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Now fry the onions gently in some more olive oil, for around 5 minutes.
Add the chorizo and garlic to the pan and fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the chili flakes, smoked paprika and crushed fennel seeds.
Now add the tomato paste – cook this out gently for 10 minutes. This is key to getting a deep rich sweet tomato flavour – cooking any tomatoes too quickly can make them taste bitter.
Add the pork back to the dish and stir well.
Now add in all of the remaining ingredients, except the parsley and bring to the boil, season well, and then transfer to the oven.
Cook in the oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
When you remove the casserole from the oven, once again, check your seasoning. You can either serve immediately, or leave it overnight and pop the casserole dish back into the oven for another hour at 180 degrees Celsius, before your guests arrive. Make sure the casserole is piping hot and garnish with parsley.
I don’t bother with potatoes with this stew, there’s a ton of delicious creamy butter beans in it, but I do serve it with home-made garlic bread and a dressed green salad.