Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Risotto Bolognese

When you think of flavours to add to a risotto, bolognese is not something that immediately comes to mind. However, when I saw that this recipe had been highly recommended on another food blog (Cooking the Books with Kelly Jane) and thought I'd give it a try.

The recipe comes from Nigella's recent book, Kitchen, and while making it I have to confess that I wasn't convinced it was going to work - sorry Nigella! The combination of the meat sauce and the stock seemed to me to be way too much liquid and I was worried it wouldn't all be absorbed by the time the rice had cooked. But I was wrong of course and it turned out just fine with the amount of liquid being exactly what I needed to cook the rice to perfection.

It is a fairly long-winded recipe so it's best saved for a Sunday afternoon or a day when you have lots of time on your hands. Having said that, though, you can prepare the meat sauce in advance and either keep it in the fridge for a day or two or freeze it. I froze half the meat sauce and used the rest to make a half portion of the risotto. This fed two adults and two children with a little bit left over for my lunch the next day.

This is a really delicious recipe which is just full of flavour and definitely worth the extra effort required to make it. 5 stars from me!

Risotto Bolognese
(adapted from Kitchen by Nigella Lawson)

1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 carrot, peeled and halved
1 stick celery, halved
1 small glove of garlic, peeled
handful fresh parsley
75g rindless streaky bacon
4 anchovy fillets (optional)
50g unsalted butter plus 1 x 15ml tablespoon
1/2 teaspoon regular olive oil
250g minced beef, preferably organic
80ml marsala
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 x 15ml tablespoon tomato puree
2 x 15ml tablespoons full-fat milk
2 litres veal stock (500ml plus 1.5 litres), preferably organic (I used beef stock)
2 bay leaves
500g risotto rice
6 x 15ml tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
salt and pepper to taste

1) Preheat the oven to 150c/gas mark 2. Put the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley, bacon and anchovy into a processor and blend to a fine mush.

2) Heat the 50g butter and 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil in a deep heavy ovenproof casserole with a lid (I don't have one of these so used a large frying pan then transferred everything to a regular, lidded casserole dish). Tip in the contents of the processor and cook for about 5 minutes until softened.

3) Add the meat and let it brown a little, breaking it up in the pan, then add the marsala. Process the tomatoes until smooth and add to the meat. Stir the tomato puree into the milk then add this mixture to the pan, along with the 500ml veal stock and the bay leaves.

4) Bring to the boil on the hob then put on the lid (or transfer to your dish of choice) and put in the oven for 1 hour. After this time, remove it from the oven and take out the bay leaves.

5) Heat the remaining 1.5 litres of stock in a saucepan and keep it warm over a low heat, then put the meat sauce on a low heat next to it.

6) Stir the rice into the meat sauce and then add a ladleful of the hot stock. Stir until the rice and sauce become thick again and then add another ladleful of stock.

7) Continue to add the stock as needed, a ladleful at a time, stirring all the time as you go. Check to see if the rice is cooked after about 18 minutes - you may not need to use all the stock.

8) When it's ready, turn off the heat and stir or beat in the cheese and the extra tablespoon of butter before before seasoning to taste. Serve in warmed, shallow bowls with extra Parmesan on the side.

Serves 6-8

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