We love a good risotto in this house, and I’ve got into the habit of making them regularly. Before I first tried making one, I’d always assumed they were hard to get right. Now I know the truth – once you get the basic technique down (read: stirring without getting distracted and leaving the kitchen) they become simplicity itself, therapeutic to make, comforting and satisfying to eat. And the variations! Oh, the variations. I’ve seen a few delicious looking ones on here recently – Spring Duck & Pea Shoot Risotto from My Kitchen Witch, Porcini Risotto with Scallops and Oregano from that other cooking blog, and spring vegetable risotto with a poached egg from Cottage Grove House.
I tend to pack my risottos with veg (that way, we consume less rice, but still fill our bellies with a big bowlful of food) but wanted to try something different. I had saffron on my brain. I’ve only eaten Risotto alla Milanese once, but it was stunning and the taste has stuck with me. Inspiration found – saffron risotto it was to be! Earlier in the week, I’d picked up a huge bulb of smoked garlic, not sure what I was going to turn it into. It just had to become a part of this dish, which managed to be both heady with earthy flavours, sweet, and rich, but not overly so. Score!
Err, now for the embarrassing bit. I can make perfectly poached eggs. I just happen to do it using clingfilm. There, confession made. Now on to the recipe…
80-100g Arborio rice
1 white onion, diced
4 large cloves smoked garlic, grated
1 generous pinch saffron
About 50ml white wine (optional)
About 800ml stock (I soaked some dried porcinis and used the resulting soaking liquid, but would equally happily use chicken stock)
1 tbsp. oil/butter, plus a little extra (I would usually use butter for risotto, but we were all out)
10-20g parmesan, finely grated
125g fresh spinach
Fry the onion over a medium heat, stirring to make sure it doesn’t catch on the pan. Meanwhile, heat your stock, then keep it on a simmer.
After the onion has started to take on a golden hue, add the rice, followed by the wine. Cook off, stirring, until absorbed. Add a ladleful of stock, the saffron and the garlic, and cook, stirring every now and then, until the rice has absorbed the stock. Repeat this with ladleful after ladleful of stock.
When the risotto is nearly done (25-35 minutes, depending on your pan and hob and wrist action), it’s time to get on with the spinach and the eggs. Lightly sauté the spinach in a little oil or butter over a gentle heat, making sure to season well. Next – the eggs. You may well have your own way of poaching eggs (and by that, I mean a way that doesn’t involve clingfilm), but anyway, here’s mine! Fill a small saucepan with water and put it on to boil. Put a good amount of clingfilm over a large mug (you need enough to accommodate the egg, plus extra for wrapping), then crack in your egg and carefully twist up the top of the clingfilm. Repeat with the other egg. Reduce heat of the water until it’s been steadily just below a boil for sixty seconds, then add the eggs. The water should reduce to a good simmer. Cook for five to five and a half minutes for perfectly cooked, runny-yolked eggs. Remove from the pan.
Stir about half of the parmesan through the risotto and season to taste. Spoon into your bowls, making a well in the middle to accommodate the spinach. Divide your by now perfectly wilted spinach between both dishes, top with the eggs which have been carefully removed from the clingfilm (a superhuman ability to not feel heat helps) then sprinkle with the remaining parmesan, if liked.