Risotto has a mixed rep. Masterchef obnoxiously calls it the "death dish". The Katering Show dubs it "fucking dinner porridge". Some think that you will be stuck at the hob stirring until your arm drops off. Not true. Twenty minutes of your care and attention is all it really needs. No shortcuts. You are coaxing the starch out of the rice grains to achieve a creamy consistency. If you do it right you should have a dish that is warm, cheesy, oozy with a delicate al dente bite. Generally I cook risotto after a bad day, wine bottle in hand to anaesthetise myself.
The beauty in this recipe is that if you don't feel like a basic risotto you can adapt the recipe to suit what ever craving has taken hold of you. It is infinitely and beautifully adaptable. You can flavour the base recipe with any herbs, vegetables, or spices - whatever is delicious, in season, or on hand to you. It’s a blank slate to do with what you will. Salmon and dill. If you like mushrooms sauté them in butter and thyme. Chuck some fucking peas in. Or don't. Squid ink if you want your risotto to have an insane dramatic effect. I generally over add on the cheese because I personally find cheese helps to balance out the amount of wine I inevitably consume in the cooking process (and the resulting existential crisis that is bound to follow).
SWEET POTATO & THYME RISOTTO
- 1 Tbsp Olive oil
- 1 small kumera/Sweet potato, cubed
- ground sea salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- dash of balsamic vinegar
- 60 gm butter,
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 Sprigs fresh thyme
- 250 gm aborio rice
- 100 ml dry white wine
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 750 ml simmering chicken stock
- 100 gm finely grated parmesan (or in my case a mix of whatever leftover knobs of cheese are floating about the cheese-box in the fridge - finely grated)
- Preheat oven to 180 C.
- Toss the cubes of sweet potato in the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and place in a single layer in a baking dish. Bake until sweet potato is cooked and slightly caramelised. Set aside.
- Heat butter in a wide casserole dish over low heat. Add onion, garlic and thyme and stir occasionally until very soft (8-10 minutes).
- Add rice, stirring to coat, and cook until just toasted (1 minute).
- Add wine and lemon juice and stir occasionally until almost evaporated (2-3 minutes).
- Add hot stock a ladleful at a time, stirring continuously until stock is absorbed before adding more - Add a Tablespoon of parmesan every second ladle. (We are using the parmesan as a seasoning at this stage)
- Cook until rice is al dente (20-25 minutes), remove from heat, stand 1 minute.
- Stir in parmesan and sweet potato pieces until combined and creamy. Season to taste and serve immediately topped with extra cheese.