As I posted last month, I'm one of the bloggers on the judging panel for the Tesco Real Food Challenge, looking for the nation's best real food cooks. I've been partnered with Jamie Theakston on the Talk & Fork category, for which we're looking for casual and easy meals that can be eaten with just a fork, relaxing on the sofa with friends or family or in front of the TV.
Click here to read my recent interview with Jamie.
Tesco invited me to cook Jamie's dish myself and share it with my readers, but I had booked far too much into my diary and knew I'd not have a night at home for quite a while. I turned to twitter and asked if any fellow bloggers could help me out by trialling the dish for me and writing a guest post all about it for Kavey Eats.
Fellow blogger Craig McKnight kindly volunteered. Craig started his own blog, We Grow Our Own, to record and share the trials and tribulations of his allotment, but when he won a competition last year, and was crowned Wahaca's Chilli Guru, it gave it an extra dimension.
Passionate about growing good food and eating good food, here's Craig's post on Jamie's risotto.
When Kavey asked on twitter for a volunteer to cook and blog a Tesco Real Food Challenge recipe for her, I jumped at the chance, particularly when she told me that she wanted me to cook Jamie's recipe - 'Mushroom and Herb Risotto' - as risottos are one of my favourite dishes.
The idea behind the 'Talk & Fork' category is that these are casual, easy meals that can be eaten with just a fork while relaxing with friends and family or in front of the TV. Any risotto definitely fits into this category, because as Nigel Slater once put it, risotto is "as instantly soothing as sucking your thumb".
It's also ideal because although you will need to stir the risotto off and on over a twenty minute period, you can still be nattering to your friends while doing this, and you also have your other hand free to enjoy the rest of the wine from the bottle!
Right, onto the recipe. Here's the ingredients that Jamie suggests …
50g (2oz) unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
225g (8oz) Arborio rice
1 glass white wine (optional)
900ml (1.2 litres) vegetable stock
450g (1lb) chestnut mushrooms, diced
1 bunch spring onions (use green parts also)
3 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
25g (1oz) fresh parmesan cheese, grated or shaved
Normally I don't have my ingredients set out like this, but I thought I'd come over all 'Delia' for this guest post. :)
Something else I noticed from Jamie's recipe is that he says that you should use 1lb of mushrooms and 8oz of rice, but according to his recipe, this serves one person! Hmmm, I think I need to speak to Jamie about his exercise regime ….
You may also have noticed two measuring jugs in the photo. One of them contains some wild mushrooms that I soaked and added to the recipe. I also added the soaking liquor to the stock once it had been strained to give a deeper mushroom flavour to the risotto.
There are also two glasses of wine. One is for the recipe and one is for the chef …. I'll leave you to work out which one is which!
- First, melt the butter & little oil in a roomy pan, add the onion and garlic and soften. There is a school of thought that it needs to be a shallow pan. I don't agree. All it needs to be is one that isn't thin and dented … unless you like the taste of burned rice.
- Once the garlic & onion has softened, turn up the heat and stir in the rice, coating the rice in the butter and oil.
- Pour in the glass of wine, turn the heat down, and stir the rice until the wine has almost evaporated.
- It is a good idea to have the stock in another pan, simmering away. You can make it with cold stock if you want to, but using hot stock will certainly shorten the time that it takes to get from the start to your stomach.
- Gradually begin to add the hot stock a ladle at a time. Wait until the stock has been absorbed by the rice before adding more. Turn the heat down so that it just bubbles gently, and stir from time to time. You'll notice the grains of rice gradually getting plumper and plumper.
- It will take about 20 minutes cooking time for the rice to be cooked, but still slightly al dente.
- Stir in the mushrooms and spring onions, followed by the herbs.
- I've tweaked Jamie's recipe again at this point, as I'd recommend stirring in nearly all of the parmesan and a little more butter. Put a lid on the pan for 3/4 minutes, and when you take it off, you'll notice the rice has become rich and creamy.
- Serve with some grated or shaved parmesan, and a sprig or two of flat leaf parsley.
Now, if there is a recipe that is as easy to cook and enjoyable to eat after a hard day at work, I've yet to find it! Enjoy!