I don't really make risotto. I can't remember the last time I did, although for some reason my first attempt is etched into my memory. I was a student finishing my thesis and two friends came round and I decided to make Nigella's mushroom risotto intended for small children from How to Eat, multiplying quantities to satisfy adult appetites. Before dinner, though, as students do, we started drinking, and carried on, and ate a whole big bag of Kettle Chips, and finally I stumbled to the stove and began making risotto. I had drunk enough to find following Nigella's small print something of a challenge, but I grasped that I had to gradually ladle in the stock; I didn't have a ladle, only a spoon, and didn't know how much to tip in at once, so I sort of trickled liquid into the pan at intervals and stirred madly. Eventually we ate it. I don't remember whether it was good or not; all I can remember is feeling stuffed before we even started from all the wine and Kettle crisps. I have made risotto since then, but rarely; it isn't that I don't like it - I just forget it exists. Anyway. Tonight I decided to start on Jamie's risotto chapter.
Jamie's book has a novel approach to risotto: he gives a basic recipe, the usual recipe, that you part-cook and then spread over an oiled baking tray to cool rapidly. You can then come back to it later. Which is what I intended to do, only I got hungry, so just moved onto stage 2, where you finish cooking the rice and add the flavourings (here: Parmesan, chopped apple, gorgonzola, goats cheese, marjoram); season, and leave for a minute for the cheese to melt into the dish. Meanwhile, toast the walnuts to scatter over the risotto once it is served.
Jamie says this is like a Waldorf salad. I wouldn't know - I associate Waldorf salads with a particularly silly episode of Fawlty Towers. What I do know is that the sweet apple, the crunchy walnut and the assertive gorgonzola really work together, textures and flavours contrasting with each other in a way that makes this strangely addictive. I had always associated risotto with effort - now I see that it does take time, but is hardly a chore. In fact, it was quite therapeutic to stand and stir. And the result definitely outweighed the effort.
Coming soon - honeycomb cannelloni! I didn't have a suitable pan and my lovely husband bought me one today as a surprise gift. What a star. Although tomorrow I am back to fish, and Friday we are out...