Posts Tagged ‘risotto’

Roast Chicken & Shredded Sprout Risotto

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Roast Chicken and Brussels Sprout Risotto

Brussels Sprouts, nothing divides the family at Christmas quite like them. I’m not sure that any other veg consistently arouses quite a reaction: ‘urghhh'; ‘None for me’ (said with a grimmace); ‘You’ve got to have sprouts at Christmas’. I don’t think it’s quite as clear cut as saying you either love them or you hate them; how you cook them makes such a difference to their taste and texture. I’m sure many of us have been scarred by soft bordering mushy, greying overcooked sprouts force fed to us at some point in our lives as children. Those poor sprouts have been done such an injustice and are a million miles away from fresh, vivid green al dente orbs lightly seasoned or finished in a pan with pancetta and chestnuts. But the scars run deep and many can never get past the trauma of those sprouts boiling away to within an inch of their existence giving off a smell disturbingly like old socks being boiled in that pan.

Which is a real tragedy.

I’m convinced that cooked in a completely different way either as a star on their own or to mingle with other ingredients in a fine dish those memories can be overcome and sprouts can be seen, and tasted, in a whole new light. And I proved it with one of the biggest sprout-haters I know. My husband.

These days I don’t like to save sprouts just for Christmas day but I don’t buy them as much as I would like as it’s only me here that eats them. When I did buy some the other day I didn’t know what I was going to do with them but then an idea struck me like a bolt from the Sprout Elf King. Hmm, what’s that you say? You’ve never heard of him? I can’t believe it! Well I’ll have to tell you all about him another time. Anyway, as I was saying, here I was standing in the kitchen with divine inspiration: I would make a risotto with leftover roast chicken and use the sprouts in it like cabbage. And with the Sprout Elf King whispering mischief into my ear I decided I would tell Rob cabbage was exactly what it was.

I had to work quickly, shredding those sprouts like lightening until they resembled nothing of their former selves before Rob caught me. Job done I began working the risotto and when Rob came into the kitchen and saw the pile of shredded green veg I smiled serenely and nodded as he asked ‘is that raw cabbage? I love raw cabbage.’ and popped it into his mouth. Seconds passed in silence and I scanned his face for a reaction. None. As he walked out of the kitchen I breathed out. First psychological test passed with flying colours.

20 minutes or so later I watched with a twinkle in my eye as Rob devoured the risotto. ‘Did you like it?’ I asked innocently. ‘Yes it was really good’ he replied as he settled back in his chair. ‘Oh, you liked the Brussels Sprouts in it then? with the same innocent voice…’Brussels Sprouts?’ a flicker of surprise and then realisation that he’d been had ‘OK, you got me. Well I’m surprised, they taste different like that. Really good.’.

Mischief managed.

Serves 4

Approximately 200g Brussels Sprouts
1.5 litre chicken stock
Olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
300g risotto rice, such as Arborio
100ml dry vermouth
A couple of large handfuls of roasted chicken, cooked through
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese, to serve (optional)

Finely shred the Brussels Sprouts using a food processor or using a sharp knife to thinly slice them.

Heat the stock in a medium pan until it is hot but not simmering, ready to ladle into the risotto.

Next, add a little oil to the pan then the onion and sauté it for a couple of minutes. Add the rice and stir well, coating it in the oil, until it starts to turn translucent then pour in the vermouth and stir the rice for about 30 seconds while the alcohol sizzles and burns off.

Start adding the hot stock, one ladle-full at time, stirring continuously. Allow the rice to absorb each ladle-full before adding the next. About half-way through add the cabbage to the risotto, stirring it in.

Keep adding stock until the rice is al dente, not totally soft all the way through but still with a bite in the middle, and the risotto has a sauce-like consistency. Different varieties of rice absorb differing quantities of liquid so you may not need all of the stock.

Add the chicken and Brussels Sprouts towards the end and ensure the chicken is completely heated through and hot before serving. Season to taste and serve with grated Parmesan cheese, if you like.

I reckon this would be fabulous with leftover turkey. Let me know if you give it a go.

Cooking at the Salone del Gusto in Turin (Part 1)

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

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I’ve just got back from Turin in Italy where I was invited by Garofalo Pasta to cook at the Salone del Gusto. The internationally renowned event is a celebration of slow food which attracts food lovers, buyers and producers from all over the world. This was the eight time the event, which is run biannually, has been held and with guests from over 160 countries it’s an incredibly abundant festival.

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The Marketplace is home to over 200 exhibitors, which have been selected in collaboration with Slow Food’s regional and international offices. It is split into three pavilions, with two representing the whole of Italy and the third dedicated to the rest of the world.

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Rob and I walked around over the two days we were there, exploring the stalls and sampling produce but it was impossible to take everything in; there was so much! We ate well at lunchtimes, devouring the most flavoursome risotto (with a great bite to it, as you’d expect) and a deliciously savoury and herby porchetta sandwich, the memory of which is making my mouth water. And wandering around we took in an incredible array of cheeses and meats, oils, wines and spirits, herbs, pasta and rice, fruits and vegetables. It was so vast and seemingly never-ending (had I died and gone to heaven?). I only wish I could have taken a suitcase full of goodies back to England with me.

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In part 2 I’ll tell you all about the excitement, fun and nervousness of cooking for around 30 – mainly Italian – food lovers at such a gastronomical event. Would my nerves get the better of me? What would the Italian foodies make of my British pasta dish? And what was the sausage-saga and how did it end?