Amazing British produces in the most magical Italian dish.
I am amazed by the way my Italian cooking and eating habits are mixing with English ones. I love risotto and it is so versatile that has been the perfect ground for my culinary “melting pot”.
Today I am trying with Whitstable Bay Organic Ale, memory of a recent week-end spent in Canterbury with friends, and leeks… totally and obviously British!
I will try to put in words the method my grand mother taught me when I was a little girl… probably the time when all my passion for cooking started!
1.5 liter of water
4 table spoon of granulated vegetable stock (you can do your own obviously, I will publish also my best veggie stock recipe, but using ready stock really speed up everything)
4 tablespoon of oil
300g of sliced leeks (circa half centimetre thickness)
half pint of Ale beer, choose a citrusy one
300g of small grain rice: I used vialone nano that I brought back from my last visit to Italy but in England you can easily find arborio rice in the supermarkets now.(Sainsbury’s or Tesco)
30g of grated mature cheddar
30g of butter
freshly ground black pepper, salt
1.In a big pot bring the water to boil and add the granulated stock. The stock has to be hot all the way to the end, so keep it bubbling on the stove on low eat.
2.Heat the oil in a deep frying pan, add the leeks and cook them on low heat for 5 minutes until soften.
3.Now the most important part of it all! Add the rice and let it fry slightly on medium heat until the rice grains become translucent, circa couple of minutes. Constantly stir not to burn or toast too much the rice.
4.Turn the heat up, add the half pint of beer and continue to stir. That’s the best part, when the beer is sizzling in the hot pan and the smell of it is filling the kitchen!
5.When the beer is quite absorbed add a ladle of stock and bubble over low-medium heat, stirring constantly, until the liquid is just about been absorbed. Add another ladle of stock and keep cooking this way until the rice is cooked, circa 20 minutes. Don’t forget to stir and do not add to much stock at once! The result has to be creamy. I always prefer to add a ladle less than one more to avoid overcooking the rice.
A note on seasoning: if your stock is salted enough you won’t need to add salt during the cooking. I don’t anyway add it till the last ladle of stock, when I can try the rice and have a clear idea how salty the dish is.
A note on the cooking: I like the risotto al dente, very creamy and a bit runny, in Italy we call it all’onda, but you can cook your rice to a driest point and decide to add less stock. The final result should be anyway a bit creamy and the grains should preserve the original shape and should be separated, not sticking together in lumps.
6.Remove from the heat, stir in the butter and the cheddar and let rest for 2-3 mins before serving. Dish the risotto and serve it with a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper and pair it with the same beer you used for cooking.
The risotto should be eaten immediately because it loses very quickly its texture, so if you are having guests it is not at all the dish to prepare in advance. I do actually like to prepare it for my guests, while they are around the kitchen and we are all having a nice glass of wine!