This is a lovely little risotto – it looks pretty, tastes
great, and it’s simple too. If you love bacon (and if not, why not?) you might
be tempted to pile more in, but honestly, I think it’s better to stick to the amount
I’ve given, because otherwise it overwhelms the more delicate flavour of the
courgette. Because of the slow simmering process, you’ll still get a lovely
smoky bacon flavour throughout the dish. However, if you’re a veggie, I think
this dish would still be pretty delicious without any bacon at all.
A couple of cloves of garlic
A good splash of vermouth or white wine
A couple of pints of chicken stock
Parmesan and cheddar cheese, to grate
Serves two, with a
bit left over for the next day.
First of all, a note on the ingredients. Obviously, I’d
always encourage you to buy all the ingredients you need, even if you aren’t
sure you’ll like them. But if you can’t afford them, don’t let that put you off
making the recipe altogether – you can usually work out a cheaper substitute.
In this recipe, you can use regular long-grain rice instead of the fancy
risotto stuff, and you can also leave out the alcohol if you like (although if
you invest in a bottle of supermarket own-brand vermouth, it will last quite a
few recipes – you need much less and you can substitute it in nearly all
recipes that call for white wine).
The first step in making a risotto is making a sofrito – this means chopping your
onion, celery and garlic very finely and frying it nice and slowly in plenty of
melted butter and olive oil, so that it softens but doesn’t take on any colour.
Stir it carefully during this time – it should take about 10-15 minutes.
Next, add your bacon lardons – again, you can use
ordinary bacon, but since this is such a lovely gooey dish, I think it’s nice
to have proper chunks of bacon to mix up the textures a bit. At this point, you
need to fill the kettle up and put it on to boil.
Once the meat has started to take on a little bit of
colour, add your rice and a generous splash of vermouth (or a small glass of
white wine). There should be a bit of a sizzle and then a lovely boozy smell
rising from the pan – leave it to fry for a minute so that all the bitterness
in the alcohol burns off and you’re just left with a nice subtle flavour.
Next, make up your stock with boiling water – about two
pints, with two stock cubes (make sure you stir it well to dissolve the cubes).
Add it to the rice a bit at a time, making sure not to add any more liquid
until the last lot has been absorbed. Keep stirring so that none of the rice
gets stuck to the bottom.
When the rice is nearly done (i.e. when it’s softened but
still has a bit of a bite to it), take the pan off the heat and grate in your
courgette – grating it rather than chopping means it softens really quickly and
you end up with a lovely juiciness in the final dish. Carry on adding stock
until the rice is softened to your liking – you shouldn’t need more than two
pints, but if you do run out, you can just do the last bit with boiling water.
Once it’s ready, take the pan off the heat again and
grate in a good handful each of parmesan and cheddar cheese, add a couple of knobs
of butter, and then stir it all through and put the lid back on. Leave it to
sit for a moment while you lay the table – this is a Jamie Oliver tip and it
means your risotto will be really gooey and creamy. Serve up a lovely warm,
fragrant bowlful and grate a bit more cheddar on top – blissful.