Artichoke Risotto with Mrs WDC’s Green Beans

  • Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Serves: 4
  • Level: medium

‘…anything’s possible. I bet it’s pretty tasty too.’

Pete
'Unlike my brothers I've never been a risotto fan...but with enough artichokes and home grown beans...'

What you need

16 violetta artichokes or two small jars of preserved artichokes or two tins of artichoke hearts.

400g Vialone Nano rice – or Carnaroli or Arborio

1 litre chicken stock – or vegetable stock (v)

1 large onion chopped finely

1 stick of celery chopped very finely

50g butter + extra for asparagus tips

125ml white wine

Small handful grated Parmesan cheese

25g extra butter – cold



Dad's Recipe Tales

The ebbs and flows of a larder…

There are always a few simple, unstressed meals put together from what is available in the kitchen and fridge during the week. I have leftover artichokes from the artichoke pasta I made the other night. This was deliberate – I knew I might use them in a frittata or risotto. Mrs WDC has several bean plants in pots around the garden. Each evening a pile of fresh beans appear on the kitchen counter; and each evening the pile disappears into my cooking. The beans are incredibly tender and compliment the artichokes.

The basic principle of flavouring risotto…

Making this risotto follows the same methodology. The critical factor is judging when to put ingredients into the rice and whether to pre-cook the ingredients before putting into the rice. If they are pre-cooked and put in too early they might break-up from the vigorous stirring; or if pre-cooked and added too late, they may not lend any flavour to the rice. Conversely, if they are uncooked and added too late they may not cook through. Pre-cooking will be safer, but if possible try using some part of the ingredient to flavour the stock, such as the base of asparagus spears for asparagus risotto. With this risotto, I had the tomato sauce the artichokes were cooked in, which I added to the stock. I precooked the beans in the stock – set them aside and then added them to the risotto toward the end of cooking. Always hold back some part of the main ingredient to add to the risotto as a garnish.

How Dad Cooked It

  1. Use a small pointed sharp stainless steel knife to prepare the artichokes.
  2. Pull off the tough outer leaves of the artichokes and carefully trim the base and stem. Cut off the top half of leaves, and cut the artichokes into halves and then quarters. If the artichokes are old or overgrown they will have developed a choke which needs to be removed. Carefully cut under the choke pulling out some of the spiny inner purple leaves. Put the artichokes in water, acidulated with a squeeze of half a lemon or a tablespoon or two of vinegar, whilst you prepare the remainder.
  3. Heat a large heavy pan with a lid. Add the artichokes and pour in 125ml good olive oil. Sweat the artichokes for a couple of minutes then add boiling water to a level just under the artichokes. Scatter over 5 peppercorns and the bay leaves. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Check the artichokes at this stage and continue to cook with the lid off until the water has evaporated and the artichokes are tender. Drain the oil and return the pan to keep warm.
  4. If using preserved artichokes, drain the artichokes over a bowl. Discard the oil. Add to a pan and warm through gently. If using tinned artichokes, drain, cut in half and fry gently in olive oil until very gently browned. Keep warm.
  5. Using a sturdy thick-bottomed or cast iron pan, cook the celery and onion in the butter (50g) with a tablespoon of fresh olive oil on a low to medium heat until transparent. Do not let it burn. This will take 10 minutes or so.
  6. Turn up the heat to medium and add the rice – cook the rice stirring all the time. Ensure the rice is coated and cooked – this takes 5 minutes or so.
  7. Add the wine and let it reduce until it has all evaporated. Add a ladle of strained hot stock.
  8. Stir the rice until the stock has all but evaporated. Tedious, I know. The stirring releases the starch from the rice and gives it its creamy consistency. So put the radio on… find a high stool… and keep stirring! The idea is to let each ladleful of stock become absorbed before adding more. This will take about 20 minutes.
  9. After one or two ladlefuls of stock or about 8 minutes – add half the artichokes to the rice.
  10. Put the kettle on and top up the stock pan as needed (stock is precious and expensive; I find that a dilution of about one third water to stock is very acceptable). Keep the routine of stock and stirring going until the rice becomes tender. To test, taste a grain – if it has a slight crunch in the very centre it is almost ready for finishing. Ensure there is plenty of moisture in the rice. The texture should be creamy – not stiff – not runny. There will be a resting period and this will tend to stiffen the mixture, so it is safe to make it a little wetter.
  11. Finish the risotto. Add the cold butter and the Parmesan (this is the ‘mantacatura’ – for purists…). Then add the artichokes, retaining a few to garnish each plate. Check the seasoning and add a little more stock if needed. Put the lid on the pan and let it rest for 5 minutes.
  12. Stir the risotto one last time. Make any further adjustments to seasoning. Serve onto each plate and add the reserved artichokes as a garnish. More Parmesan can be added at the table.
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