Spanish Risotto with Chicken on the Bone

I don’t really know how to categorise this one – the risotto part is a kind of riff on the theme of paella/jambalaya, with oozing golden rice, rich spicy chorizo and a whole rainbow of colourful veggies, and I think it goes beautifully with a bit of roast chicken, with crispy, salty skin on top. The risotto looks prettiest with three different coloured peppers in it, but this is one of those recipes where you can chuck in pretty much whatever you’ve got lurking in the veg drawer.

A couple of chicken thighs or drumsticks – whichever you prefer
Half a ‘ring’ of chorizo
At least 2 peppers in different colours
1 onion
5 big closed-cup mushrooms
200g risotto rice (or normal long grain, if you’re on a budget)
1 400g can of chopped tomatoes
Olive oil
Salt & black pepper
Turmeric, cumin and a bit of ginger
Cheddar cheese, to serve

Serves 2, with some risotto left over for the next day.

This dish needs plenty of time but not too much attention, so once you’ve got it started you can leave it to bubble (topping up the water every now and then). First of all, get the risotto going – dice the onion, chop up the mushrooms, and de-seed and chop the peppers (a handy tip for doing this quickly is to stand the pepper up with its stalk at the top, then slice off four ‘sides’, leaving the stalk, pith and seeds in the middle). Chuck the peppers and onions into a pan (I like to use my wok for this) with a splash of olive oil. While they start to sizzle and soften, roughly chop the chorizo, then add that and the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and then add a good sprinkling of cumin and ginger (if you’ve got fresh ginger, you can use some of that instead – a piece about the size of the top joint of your thumb, finely chopped or grated).

Stir and toss for a few minutes until the onions have turned a lovely golden-brown, then add the rice and keep stirring until it’s been nicely coated with the oil. Next, pour in the chopped tomatoes, then refill the empty can with water and pour that in too. Sprinkle a generous helping of turmeric over the top. Mix well, then turn the heat down to medium and leave it to bubble.

In the meantime, put the oven on to heat up at 180˚C fan (add 20˚C if your oven isn’t fan), then prepare your chicken – pop it in a small earthenware dish, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with salt and a bit of rosemary. Roughly chop a clove of garlic into four or five pieces and scatter these across the dish too. When the oven gets up to temperature, pop the dish in and set a timer for 45 minutes.

Keep an eye on the risotto – it’s a low-maintenance one, compared to many recipes, but give it a stir every now and then and when it looks like it’s getting dry, add another half-canful of water. The rice will probably cook fairly slowly, so with a bit of luck, the risotto and the chicken should be ready at the same time. If the chicken is done first (i.e. the timer goes off but the rice is still a bit hard), it won’t do it any harm to stay in the oven for a bit until the risotto is done – just turn down the heat.

Once everything is ready, serve up a couple of chicken pieces for each person with a steamy, fragrant helping of risotto, and top with a little grated cheddar – marvellous warming food for a gloomy autumn evening.