I’m going to have to introduce a separate ‘risotto’ category soon – but I really do make risotto a lot. I’ve had a really busy day but to stand by my cooker, slowly pouring hot stock into the rice in a pan and gently stirring with, it must be admitted, a glass of wine to hand, and just slowing down. Well, what could be better. And then there is the fabulous eating at the end!
For a fuller description of risotto making, look at my recent post: Mushroom & Taleggio Risotto. Tonight, because I’d been busy, it was pretty much a store cupboard-fridge meal. A jar of artichoke hearts, conserved in oil, had been sitting in my fridge for so long I had to check that they were still within the ‘use-by’ date. Risotto rice (and other kinds) are always in my cupboards. And as I’ve eaten rather a lot of wheat – pizza and bread – over the last couple of days, rice seemed a good and healthy way to go. Artichoke hearts prepared in this ‘jar’ way have quite a strong flavour. The fresh ones do too, well, distinctive, but in a more subtle way. So I decided that a strong cheese would go well with them. I did stop off at the supermarket on my way back from my last sortie of the day and grabbed a pack of the cheese and a nice organic salad mix with some lovely bitter radicchio and peppery rocket. The risotto was going to be rich, so a crisp fresh salad would be the best accompaniment.
I took some frozen stock cubes (made from homemade stock) from the freezer and got them thawing and heating in a small pan. I chopped 1 small onion finely and put it in a pan with some olive oil.
As I said in my Mushroom & Taleggio Risotto post, risotto is more of a northern Italian dish and they use butter a lot rather than oil, but I knew the artichoke and Gorgonzola would be very rich and decided to stick with just oil this time. I gently fried the onion and then tipped in half a cup of risotto rice and stirred. Once well coated, I poured in a good slug of dry vermouth (or use white wine if you have some open). Once the vermouth was absorbed, I slowly added the hot stock ladleful by ladleful. When the rice is almost tender and the liquid almost absorbed, check the seasoning. If your stock is well salted you may not need extra but add some black pepper. The risotto should have a sloppy slightly wet consistency. The rice should be cooked al dente – i.e. cooked but retaining a slight bite and be separate pieces. The stirring of the risotto rice will give a nice creamy texture to the whole dish.
Now, add some of the artichoke heart pieces, then dollop some pieces of the lovely, gooey Gorgonzola on top. Put a lid on the pan and leave for about 5 minutes so the cheese starts to melt and the artichoke warms up. Then very gently stir together. Spoon onto a plate and put another artichoke piece from the jar on top to decorate and serve with the green salad.
It was rich but fabulous; so soft and deeply creamy. Eating Gorgonzola always reminds me of my late Dad and how when I was a kid we used to go to Soho every Saturday morning and have cake and coffee in Madame Bertaux, the famous French bakery in Greek Street, and then wander along to an Italian deli in Old Compton Street where we’d buy wonderful bread and a great slab of Gorgonzola. The nice memory added to the comforting aspect of this lovely dish at the end of a busy day. What a lovely way to relax!