I may have mentioned it before but I am an avid bargain hunter / cheapskate. So my weekly shop tends to be from Aldi both because it’s convenient, and quite cheap, and a lot of their food isn’t as bad as some people think it is. (especially the cold meats, and unless I’m growing them myself, vegetables tend to be just vegetables to me).
So when I saw they were selling some Italian foods, I went ahead and purchased some Arborio Rice. Normally our household survives exclusively on Indian Basmati Rice so this made an interesting change and allowed me to cook proper(?) Risotto.
To make Risotto, one needs at least the following basic ingredients in addition to rice: Butter, Onion, Stock, some meat or veg for interest, salt & pepper, perhaps a splash of wine and some Parmesan cheese. The method is fairly simple, but time consuming and labour intensive.
Rather than use a crappy stock cube in boiling water, I remembered that I still had some pheasant stock in the freezer so that’s what I used. Plus some left over pieces of pheasant that I had braised in red wine.
250g Arborio rice
Knob of butter (be as generous as you like)
1 large onion – finely chopped
1 clove of garlic – finely chopped
1 cup Wine (any type you like, I happened to have Rose)
Some sprigs of Thyme and Rosemary
Salt, Pepper, Red chilli flakes, plus any other seasoning you like.
Meat Stock (Pheasant in my case)
Shredded meat from said stock, or any vegetables you like; beans, peas, carrots, spinach, etc.
Firstly make sure to heat the stock while you start off the risotto.
In a sufficiently large pan or wok, heat some olive oil with butter and start sauteeing the garlic and onion with the herbs and chilli flakes until cooked.
Then add the rice and stir fry it for a while, until you notice it starting to stick. Also add any vegetables at this point.
Add your wine and stir the rice/onion/veg mixture until the wine has been absorbed / evaporated. The idea is to add liquid and cook it down repeatedly, letting the risotto pretty much dry up in between to the point of sticking a little bit.
Add some stock, cook it down again. Depending on how your stock is seasoned, add some salt and pepper and any other seasoning you like.
According to the instructions on the rice packet, it should have cooked in about 15-20 minutes. I found this to be quite inaccurate, mine took at least double that and in the end it was still a little “al dente” and certainly not overcooked at all.
So keep adding stock and stirring constantly (I did say it was labour intensive!), adding the shredded meat from the stock. Check what instructions your rice came with and start tasting at roughly 15-20 minutes cooking time to see if it’s done yet. You’re looking for the rice grains to be separate and hold their shape, but not crunchy. Just like pasta, you want the rice to still have some “bite” and be firm inside, however not too hard to eat! After stirring and adding more and more liquid you will notice that the Risotto has developed a silky, creamy textured liquid around the rice grains. This is the starch coming out of the rice and exactly as it’s supposed to happen!
If you feel it’s cooked to your liking, turn off the heat, add some more butter, grated parmesan cheese, any fresh leafy herbs you like and additional salt & pepper if needed.
I served the Risotto with some additional pieces of pheasant and roasted cherry tomatoes. Also, I added saffron quite in the beginning for some extra fragrance and colour, though I may have gotten a little colour, I couldn’t distinguish it in the finished product so I left it out of the recipe.