The secret to a great risotto (apart from the 20 minutes patience it takes to stir it) is the stock and using good quality rice such as Arborio or Carnaroli. If you don’t have any of those ingredients just make something else for supper! If you do, you’ll be rewarded with a delicious treat. Make sure you put your plates on to warm so they are just right before you are ready to serve as this doesn’t take long to make. This pea and ham risotto is quite possibly my favourite of all. I like it with a squeeze of lemon before serving, just to cut the richness.
- 400g risotto rice
- 400g chopped cooked ham
- 1 litre of ham stock
- 50g frozen petits pois
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 70g butter
- 3 finely chopped shallots
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed to a paste
- 2 sticks of celery, de-strung and finely chopped
- 100ml Noilly Prat for preference or dry white wine
- Maldon sea salt and pepper
- 80g grated Parmesan cheese
- Basil to garnish
- Firstly, warm the stock but don’t let it boil.
- Heat the oil in a sauté pan and sweat the shallots and celery for a few minutes until they are translucent and soft and then add the garlic paste.
- Add the rice and coat it with the oil for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Next, pour in the vermouth and keep stirring to cook off the alcohol whilst leaving the flavour. Add the first ladle of stock and keep stirring. As each measure is absorbed, add another and then another.
- Keep stirring and keep the heat to medium. The liquid must be absorbed slowly or the outside will be soft and the inside will be too hard. A little ‘al dente’ bite is what you’re aiming for, not crunch. Keep adding stock until it’s gone – a little bite is what you’re aiming for but not a crunch. The risotto should be slightly liquid and silky not dry and stodgy. Taste for seasoning – you won’t need to add salt if the ham stock is salty.
- When it’s ready, stir in the ham and peas to warm through and take it off the heat. Finally, stir in the Parmesan cheese and the butter.
- Serve immediately on warmed plates, garnish with fresh basil, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.
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