Monday, 14 February 2011

A Risotto for Optimising Sofa Time.

Being full of cold and generally grumpy today I've been in a bit of a rant mode. One of my main sources of irritation was a tweet from Ruch Reichl who never fails to annoy. She epitomises a particular style of food writing which takes itself oh, so seriously. It's very stylised and tries to be spare, but is in fact adjective rich, humourless and intensely precious. Ms Reichl's tweets are almost self-paradic. Here's a sample: 

"So cold. Heavy snow-swollen sky. Butter-toasted oatmeal, rivers of thick cream, brown sugar. Fresh orange juice: such fragrant hope."

And my favourite:

"Chilly morning; summer ebbing away. Last night's peach pie, fragile and fragrant on this bright morning. Each bite a tiny farewell."

I just can't stand it. The other thing I can't stand is the way in which some writers fall into the trap of the easy

cliche. I'm sure the first time I read a passage which talked about the soothing, meditative, zen like effects of stirring risotto, I would have found it original, but now everyone's at it and it's just annoying. I'm sure I enjoy stirring risottos (or anything else for that matter) as much as the next person, but please, can't we find something else to say about it? Why is there always this need to mysticise cooking. Do I think cooking is good for the soul? Yes, I do, but sometimes, the main benefit is simply that I want something good to eat.

So, as I said at the top, coldy and moany and the last thing I want to do is cook anything, but I have three other people in the house to feed and S is already floundering about wondering what to do. So I check the method in Richard Ehrlich's "80 Recipes For Your Pressure Cooker". Do a quick search and grab in fridge and cupboard (this was made with roast chicken leftovers) and make a risotto in less than 10 minutes. No stirring, beyond a bit of sauteeing at the beginning, and beating in of cheese at the end, and it tasted bloody good too.

Risotto, for those days when you are too tired to stand up and need some extra sofa time:

1 onion, finely chopped
250g risotto rice
A splash of vermouth
600ml chicken stock (mine was very garlicky, so no extra garlic, if you like add some chopped garlic with the rice) 
A pinch of saffron, wetted in some of the chicken stock
Some cooked chicken
A cupful of peas
Tarragon if you have it, or any other herb you fancy
A squeeze of lemon juice
As much grated parmesan as you fancy.

Heat a large knob of butter in your pressure cooker and add the onion. Saute until starting to soften, then add the rice and garlic if you are using it. Stir for a minute or two until the rice is well coated with the butter. Add the vermouth, let it sizzle, then add the chicken stock, saffron,  herbs and seasoning. Lock the pressure cooker lid into place, quickly bring up to pressure and cook for 5 minutes. Fast release under water, then add the chicken, peas and parmesan. If there is still too much liquid left, half cover and leave on a very low heat for 2-3 minutes. Beat to combine and for extra smoothness. Check for seasoning and add a squeeze of lemon juice if you like.

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