I always thought that risotto was up there with a soufflé in terms of the technical skill required for a good result. I was convinced I would get the texture wrong and I would end up with a dry and hard risotto. One day however my mind made the simple connection between the texture of a good creamy rice pudding and the correct texture for risotto, I am very fond of rice pudding, particularly served with a crimson swirl of strawberry jam so I have made it a point to learn how to make rice pudding whether baked, cooked on the stove top or microwaved. Once I had rice pudding as a reference point I was much more confident in approaching risotto.
Risotto is one of the perfect comfort foods, it can be cooked in a near meditative state, standing by the heat of the stove, wine glass in hand, listening to music, stirring intermittently, while you are lulled in to a relaxed state because risotto cannot be rushed. It is creamy, savoury and can be as basic or as complex as you like depending on your mood. This risotto was pulled together from the ingredients I could find in Aldi late one Sunday evening and the result was much more luxurious than the cost of the ingredients would suggest. This kind of dish is great for a Sunday evening supper, particularly if you have indulged in brunch and have no mind for a proper dinner. The ingredients here made for two hearty two portions with enough left for seconds.
50 grams of butter
1 cup Arborio rice
¼ cup of white wine
2 fat shallots, peeled and finely chopped
3 cups of gluten free vegetable or fish stock, keep this heating in a pot over a low heat
½ cup of petite pois
250 grams of smoked fish, I used coley but haddock or cod would be good
1 cup of milk
1 bay leaf
4 – 5 pepper corns
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
Lemon wedges and grated parmesan to serve
Put the smoked fish in a pot and cover with the milk, add the bay leaf and pepper corn and bring to the boil, as soon as the milk starts to bubble reduce the heat and simmer for ten minutes, turn off the heat and allow the fish to sit in the milk and infuse with the flavours of the bay leaf and pepper corns
Melt the butter in a wide bottomed pan over a medium heat and add the chopped shallots, saute gently until the shallots have softened but not browned, this should take about 5 to 7 minutes
Add the rice to the pan and stir for one minute, coating the rice with the butter
Pour in the wine and stir until it evaporates
Add 1 ½ cups of the stock and simmer until it is absorbed, stirring frequently
Add the remaining stock ½ cup at a time, stirring until each pour is absorbed before adding the next
Once you have used all the stock remove the fish from the milk strain the milk and start adding to the rice, ½ cup at a time.
Continue until the rice is almost completely cooked through with a creamy consistency, this should take about 35 to 40 minutes.
Flake the cooked fish, removing any bones and the skin and then add to the rice with the petite pois, lemon zest and juice, stir gently to combine without breaking up the flaked fish, let this sit for a few minutes until the peas and the fish are warmed through. The rice should be tender and at this point you are ready to serve. Check for seasoning but depending on your fish and stock you may not need extra salt.
Spoon into bowls and top with large shavings or parmesan cheese and some fresh ground black pepper, serve with a wedge of lemon and the remainder of the white wine.