Early last summer, I cooked my first ever risotto, and pledged to get good at the dish. For some reason, although I love rice, it wasn’t something that I ever made at home – instead, one of those dishes that I’d pick on a restaurant menu. This rich, indulgent version is packed full of veg and has layer upon layer of flavour – right up my street! B says it’s restaurant quality, which is lovely to be told… I tasted it before adding the stilton and it was so good even without it, which is worth bearing in mind (especially for any readers who think that blue cheese = bleurgh cheese…)
50g beet tops (or chard), sliced
150g chestnut mushrooms, diced
2 celery sticks, diced, and any leaves you can find on the bunch
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 small onion, diced
50g stilton, crumbled into small lumps
About 600ml stock (I used chicken)
About a handful of dried mushrooms
1 bay leaf
1 sprig rosemary
Plenty of cracked black pepper (although I think white would be nice here, too)
Begin by adding the dried mushrooms to the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about ten minutes. Strain the stock, and discard the mushrooms (I only use them for flavour), then put the stock back on to the hob on a low heat.
Over a medium heat, sweat the onion in the butter until transluscent. Add the rice, and stir until well coated in the fat. Add the bay leaf, rosemary, mushrooms, diced celery sticks and garlic, followed by a ladleful of stock. Stir until the liquid is absorbed, then add another ladleful. Repeat for a couple more ladles of stock, and then throw in the chard and celery leaves. Remember to stir the pan regularly to ensure that the rice doesn’t stick and releases its starch. I tend to remove the rosemary when I’ve been cooking the risotto for about 15-20 minutes, but keep it in if you want a more distinctive herby flavour!
Cook until the rice is creamy and soft (although I do like it to be ever so slightly al dente) then turn the heat off, remove the bay leaf, add pepper to taste and gently stir through the stilton. Serve immediately and savour every mouthful!