Risotto... Mrs. Cheoff's Comfort
My wife has been under the weather recently. A drop in her appetite ensued. This was understandable but we still made our weekly menu plans together even though some of the meals would be scraped off her plate after a mere nibble.
The recipe here signalled a turning point and was the first that Mrs. Cheoff had really enjoyed for some days. I lay no claim to providing any cure. I’m just glad she was finally able to relish something so full of flavour.
I’ll give the ingredients which I used. That’s for two, of course, so you can do the maths and multiply or divide for the number you are feeding.
Courgette, Pea and Herb Risotto
1 large shallot, chopped
400g courgettes, coarsely grated
A handful of frozen peas
200g Arborio rice
1 small glass of white wine
900ml vegetable stock (use chicken stock if you like)
Your choice of herbs, finely chopped
40g grated Parmesan cheese
Put the stock in a pan over low heat with a ladle at the ready.
Choose another roomy pan with plenty of space for thoughtful, loving stirring. Put in the shallots and soften them gently in the butter. I would normally use garlic as well but I just wanted to concentrate on creamy rice and fresh herbs with this one. Add the grated courgettes and turn up the heat a little to drive off some of their moisture. The rice joins the mix and needs stirring in until shiny with buttery glaze.
Keep with the heat, tip in the glass of wine and stir until the alcohol is gone and the rice has absorbed most of it.
Reduce to a gentler heat. For the next twenty minutes keep adding hot ladlefuls of stock, stirring the rice around to absorb the liquid and release starch. This will make a sticky, creamy world of indulgence. You might not use all the stock or you might need to add a little extra water.
With five or six minutes to go, add the peas and some pepper for seasoning. Stock will often provide enough salt but check and use more if you like.
The stirring goes on. Start checking the grains of rice for readiness. You should be able to feel the last bit of resistance at the core of the grain.
Italians call this ‘Al dente’… in other words, with a trace of enough inner hardness to take the lead in ‘The Godfather’.
To finish, I stir in a knob of butter and half of the Parmesan. If this creates too much stiff stickiness, loosen things again with more liquid.
Finally the herbs are stirred in.
My triumvirate of choice was mint, tarragon and chives. They really worked well... muck about and find what works for you!
You now have a glorious gloop of silky, creaminess, underpinned by a pop from zingy herbs.
Finish off by topping with more grated Parmesan. For simplicity, I left out a sauté of small diced courgette but a main course serving is great with some cast over.
Risotto demands that you spend time and slow-release effort. In return you should allow yourself whimsical or wistful thoughts and, perhaps, bend an ear to one of my ‘Kitchen Cookers’!
Your efforts will provide an almost cast-iron guarantee of success. My offering was as tasty as ever but Mrs. Cheoff’s upturned smile gave added satisfaction to the moment for me.
Stir and enjoy!
Oh dear, you didn’t think I’d be all selfless and just attend to my wife’s needs, did you!
Reader, I indulged myself.
I seized upon the one bottle left and poured a glass before, during and after the risotto. Delicious… guilty as charged, your honour!