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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Risotto with Chorizo & Asparagus

A lot of people are turned away from making risottos for some reason or another. I must admit I was once one of these people and subsequently I also shyed away from ever ordering a risotto when dining out. The usual gripes are that it is too gluggy, soggy rice, flavourless base and no appeal whatsoever. So when it comes to cooking a risotto I keep these in mind so as to avoid them. My risotto usually takes me a good part of 45 minutes from start to finish, that's including the chopping and cooking. I have heard that a risotto should only take around 20 minutes in cooking time and on timing mine for the first time today I found that it took me probably 30 minutes from the time the oil hit the pan.  That means 15 minutes for prep time.  Not bad! Add this to the weeknight hit list.
The key to a good risotto is a good stock.  This is your flavour base and it will carry the dish from the first mouthful to the last.  Choose a good liquid stock to ensure that blandness is not on the menu.  I don't like to add too much to the risotto when cooking it - that being meats and vegetables.  Any additions can change the temperature of the dish and cause the rice to cook at an uneven rate.  My recommendation is to have these cooking separately on the side and add it too the risotto at the end.
In this recipe the flavour of the risotto is the highlight and then the other elements of asparagus, beans and chorizo are complimentary.  This method also ensures an even coloured risotto not picking up the browns from the meat or the greens from the vegetables.  The only time I would choos to do this is when I want to carry the flavour and colour of the vegie through the dish, such as a spinach infused risotto or an adventurous squid ink risotto in jet black (which I am yet to attempt!)
INGREDIENTS to serve 4-5
1.5ltrs Chicken Stock, kept at a rolling boil so that it hits the rice nice and hot
2 cups of Arborio rice (or if you can get it - Carnaroli Rice)
1 x Onion, diced
2 x Garlic cloves, crushed
180ml x White Wine
A pinch of Saffron Threads (soak in a couple tbsp of stock)
50g Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated
100ml Cream
100g Asparagus, cut into 2cm lengths, blanched in the stock for a few minutes then put into a cold water bath
100g Green Beans, cut into 2cm lengths, blanched in the stock for a few minutes then put into a cold water bath
3-4 Chorizo Sausages, sliced on the bias (diagonal slices)
1tbsp Sweet Paprika
1tsp Garlic Powder
1tsp Cracked Pepper
2bsp White Wine Vinegar
Olive Oil
Parsley to garnish
Place a deep pan or skillet on the hob at medium heat and drizzle a little Olive Oil to coat the base
Add the onion and garlic and fry gently for about a minute, do not allow to brown
Stir in the risotto rice and be sure to coat the grains with the oil and onion mixture.  Allow this to gently fry for another minute
Pour in two ladles of boiling stock into the pan.  Stir gently to combine and lift any rice sticking to the base.
When the stock is absorbed completely add another two ladles and stir to combine once again.
Now add the white wine and allow to reduce slightly before adding the next two ladles of stock
Reduce the heat on the risotto and place a frying pan on another hob on medium heat
Cook the chorizo gently in the pan and allow the oil to render out.  This should take about 2-3 minutes
Tip another two ladles of stock into the risotto, it should be starting to thicken with the swelling rice
Into the chorizo pan add the paprika and garlic and allow to toast for a few seconds then splash in the vinegar and stir well to combine and remove from the heat.  Season with a good hit of cracked pepper.
Back to the risotto which is nearing the end as your stock will soon be finished after another couple of sets of ladles into the risotto
At this point add the saffron threads and soaking liquid.  Stir gently and watch the risotto take on the yellow hue from the saffron
After the final ladle of stock is poured in, the risotto should be almost ready.  
Stir in the grated Parmesan and the cream.
Fold in the blanched asparagus and beans.
Place a lid on the pan and remove from the heat.  Allow to stand for 5-6 minutes
Place the chorizo mixture in the centre of the risotto and garnish with a generous amount of parsley.  
Drizzle a little olive oil over the lot and serve immediately with a simple leafy green salad on the side for crunch.
VARIATIONS instead of Chorizo
Cook strips of boneless chicken with sundried tomato, olives and crushed garlic.
Serve risotto with bbq lamb chops or cutlets
Serve with grilled sausages of your choice
Replace chorizo with peeled raw prawns and follow same method 

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