Thursday, December 07, 2006

Spicy pangrattato risotto

Yesterday was an exceedingly long and tiring day for me - I travelled to Liverpool for a work trip, and back, in one day. The train journey varies between three and a half and nearly four hours, plus travel to and from the station here and car ride at the other end. I had to get up insanely early and worrying about the alarm not going off kept me awake most of Tuesday night, which was a predictable start to the day. The journey there and back in itself was quite pleasant, if that isn't an odd thing to say about a train ride; the trains were busy but only the last leg between York and Newcastle was noisy, thanks to drunk Scottish men (who always seem to be on trains with me...). Otherwise, it was relatively quiet and I managed to read two admittedly slim but thoroughly depressing recent French novels - as well as having a Nigella gingerbread muffin for breakfast, which was a self-awarded treat. The whole day went well, but it felt long, and I was exhausted when I staggered into the house. I had known I would be and in a Blue Peter moment, I had managed to make risotto base on Tuesday evening and refrigerate it to finish off quickly on Wednesday night. I am very proud of that Blue Peter moment because it is uncharacteristic, but I was determined not to end up with rehashed student food. I wanted gently warming comfort food to eat out of a bowl, and risotto, now it has become a fast food thanks to Jamie's cunning system of pre-cooking the base, is perfect.

I say perfect. Sadly, and predictably given how tired I was, I managed to burn the pangrattato - the spicy breadcrumbs to go on top of the risotto. Basically, I had to whiz lemon zest, dried red chillies, garlic, anchovies and bread pieces in a food processor with some oil from the anchovies and then fry in a little oil until darkened and crisp. Sounds easy - is easy - but I was too tired to concentrate and also I was a little hasty in assuming that my blitzing had finished, so my breadcrumbs weren't very uniform, which also contributed to the overall effect: some crumbs darkened, some burnt, some not very dark. I sampled it and decided it was fine - the un-darkened crumbs had gone crispy and the burnt ones tasted okay, so I went for it, finishing off the risotto and sprinkling the crumbs over.

This was really nice. It would have been better if I hadn't messed up the pangrattato, but I am sure I did so mainly because I was so tired. I was also in a hurry because I wanted to see Nigella's Christmas Kitchen, which I really enjoyed. I know Nigella is incredibly kitsch at Christmas and does a lot of pouting into the camera, but that programme yesterday conveyed Christmas festive cheer amazingly well. Watching it, I felt Christmas had come already - and certainly I'd love to have Nigella feed me at Christmas. My main preparation so far has been to order the turkey - a Bronze - from a local farm shop, plus a couple of ribs of beef to roast. I know my turkey is still enjoying a happy life - although it might not be looking forward to Christmas as much as I am. I am also looking forward to Nigella's 'Christmas in a glass' (gingerbread syrup and prosecco...) and some festive ham, and a Yule log which I think I want to make this year. But if anyone fancies writing some Christmas cards for me, I will be very grateful.


FreyaE said...

Hi kathryn!
I made that breadcrumb topping before, but I stirred it through spaghetti with broccoli in it. I too burnt my breadcrumbs. Seems that they are prone to scorching!
I wasn't as impressed with the Nigella Christmas special although I will, of course, watch all three. It was nice to see her back on the screen though after so long. I thought the Christmas Cake looked beautiful!
Hope you've recovered from your long journey!
Freya x

Gravy Queen said...

I'm in Liverpool! Next time you are here give me a shout!

GQ x