Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Lemon joy

I’ve made this particular risotto in the best of times and the worse of times.

Many years ago when T got me into risottos I’d seen Nigella make this on her Nigella Bites series and she said what a massive influence Anna Del Conte had been to her. I made this for the first time in T’s previous fabulous new kitchen and we marveled at the quantities the recipe produced. There were three of us so I may have doubled it in fear of falling short but I seem to recall a river of unctuous risotto but definitely as good as it was, there was way too much.

Years later when I made it for D when MC, N and LLcT wouldn’t dream of going near a risotto, again we really enjoyed it but were rather over faced. In June 2004 when I made it for M when we were in dire need of some stodgy solace and there was way, way too much but it did the trick. I can really vouch for the calming effect of making a risotto, the gently soothing motion of stirring the grains and adding the stock a ladleful at a time is ultimately comforting even before you’ve had a mouthful. And this one seems extra pleasurable, as firstly I love microplaning the lemon into a pile of lemon gossamer. I then microplane the Parmesan into very satisfying curls. And the final gratifying part is add the eggy, lemony, Parmesany mixture to the cooked risotto. The egg yolk causes the risotto to take on a sunnier glow as it mingles with the cooked grains. And then of course there’s the eating, there is something very reassuring about a good risotto, all is well with the world for a few mouthfuls.

When I discovered the original Anna Del Conte recipe (though she attributes it to Romana Bosco, a talented cook who runs a cookery school in Turin and then she in turn credits Giovanni Goria), I realized that the only difference was the additional of 5 or 6 sage leaves and one or two more diners! The mystery is solved; Nigella is feeding hungrier people!

I do admit than shallots and celery aren’t always just at hand for me so this time I substituted them for a very finely chopped leek (but I adore leek so this isn’t a problem!)

Risotto with Lemon (risotto al limone)

If you’re Nigella Lawson Serves only 2!
If you’re Anna Del Conte Serves 3-4!

2 shallots
1 stick of celery
60g unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
300g risotto rice
1 litre vegetable stock (Marigold with do)
zest & juice of 1/2 unwaxed organic lemon
needles from 2 small sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 egg yolk
4 tbsp grated Parmesan & to serve
4 tbsp double cream
Maldon salt & white pepper

- Chop the shallots and celery very fine

- Soften the shallot and celery mixture in half the butter & oil for about 5min (a little salt helps to prevent burning) until the soffritto is done

- Mix in the rice and stir to coat all the grains until slightly translucent

- Keep the stock simmering in another pan

- When rice becomes shiny and partially translucent, start ladling the simmering stock and stir thoroughly until the rice has absorbed the stock.

- Add another ladleful of stock and continue. You may not need all the stock; good quality risotto rice takes around 20 minutes to cook.

- Meanwhile, mix the lemon zest and the finely chopped rosemary needles and stir them through the rice halfway through the cooking

- In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolk, lemon juice, the Parmesan, double cream and a generous grinding of black pepper

- Remove risotto off heat and stir in the eggy, lemony mixture and the remaining butter

- Cover the pan and leave to rest for 2 minutes, finish by giving the risotto an energetic stir and transfer to a heated bowl

- Serve with more Parmesan... Dive in!

I finally, got to christen my new Divertimenti lemon squeezer, it is very yellow, efficient and also pleasing to use.

I was determined to try and get an action shot of the risotto, yes I know you’re going to say exactly ‘what action does a risotto do?’ But I mean that as a risotto is maybe not the most photogenic of subjects, a judicious redeployment of my gorilla pod can at least allow a fork magically levitate over the bowl! The effect is more of a J's eye view if you will.

Go on then…dive in.

Buon Appetito!

1 comment:

Stephen Cadywold, Herne Hill said...

I came across this recipe via Anna del Conte and it really is the most sublime risotto, which never fails to impress guests. Taleggio and Watercress risotto is another favourite.