When the weather is cold, and I have some time to spend in the kitchen, I love making risotto. It’s warming and hearty and can stand up to pretty strong flavors. Plus its fabulous with a great glass of red wine.
There is a plethora of versions to be made but thought I would try my hand at a Spanish flavoured risotto. A lot of cultural flavours should not be transported from one to another food group. I remember seeing Tandoori risotto one day in a cafe….eeek! Love my Tandoori, and my risotto, but they should not be together in one dish! I do think the Spanish flavours are close enough to complement the Italian which is why I thought I would give this a shot. I would love to be making paella good and proper, I don’t have the equipment, nor did I have the ingredients handy so this is as close as I got. It was tasty and improved wonderfully on the second day once it had a chance for the flavours to marry together well. Risotto is often best eaten fresh though so I’ve adapted my recipe for you which I think will improve it dramatically and correct the little things I thought we missing or not quite right.
I learnt a few things making this dish though that I think are worthy of passing on.
tip 1: the 3 chillis I used was too much…the heat over-powered the more subtle flavours when we ate the risotto fresh last night. It was well-balanced after a day of sitting, but ideally you want to eat your risotto fresh. I’ve adjusted the recipe for you, but I would suggest that it’s an easy ingredient to omit if you’re not a fan of hot food and the flavours won’t suffer too much from it missing.
tip 2: Use good quality saffron. It’s a very expensive spice, worth more by weight than gold, but when you use it right, the flavour is divine. The saffron I bought at the supermarket had lost a lot of its flavour and I was missing it in the final dish. I am a massive fan of saffron and it was one of the reasons I wanted to make this risotto. But as my Mum says in Please Pass the Recipe, buy your herbs and spices in small quantities as they lose their flavour over time. Lesson learnt…again! Thanks Mum
tip 3: more fresh herbs….I don’t think you can have too much really, but they impart a beautiful freshness to the final product. If you are re-heating from frozen, add them, and maybe some spinach, when serving to create a yummy fresh meal.
Spanish Inspired Risotto
makes approx 10 serves
- 3 cups arborio rice
- 2 litres chicken stock
- 1 cup white wine
- 6 chicken thighs, diced
- 3 chorizo sausages sliced thinly
- 2 corn cobs
- 1 zucchini – diced
- 4 large tomatoes diced or 1 punnet of baby tomatoes
- 1 brown onion finely diced
- 1 leek (white portion) finely sliced
- 2 stalks of celery finely diced
- 1 cup frozen peas (or fresh would be better)
- large handful baby spinach leaves
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbl sp dried oregano
- 2 fresh chillis, finely sliced
- 2 tbl sp smoked paprika
- healthy pinch of good quality saffron
- 4 tbl sp olive oil
- half bunch continental parsley shredded
- half bunch coriander (cilantro) shredded finely
- juice of half a lemon
- lemon wedges to serve
To prepare to make your risotto its best to have everything ready to go when you start cooking. Once the heat is on, you will need to be attached to a spoon and the pan most of the way so there won’t be time to continue preparing the food.
Put your chicken stock with your saffron into a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer then keep on a low heat. You don’t want this to boil.
In a heavy based saucepan fry of your chorizo slices in the olive oil until slightly brown and then add in chilli, celery, onion & leek. When your onion starts to become translucent then add in your rice and fry off until it starts to brown and stick to the bottom of the pan. Add in your white wine.
Begin to add your stock to your rice, a ladle at a time, stirring constantly. You need to keep your pan on a low heat so the stock doesn’t boil, but just warms through as the rice is cooking. This process will take approximately 45 minutes so you do need to be patient. The end result is worth it though in my opinion.
At about the 25 minute mark add in your chicken pieces.
At about the 35 minute mark add in your remaining vegetables
As you are about to take the risotto off the heat, add in your freshly cut herbs and also season with salt, pepper, the smoked paprika and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Next time I make this I would also put in a generous handful of spinach. Serve with a lemon wedge.
If you give this one a go, please let me know how you go and if you would tweak the recipe even further. Whilst tasty, I think this one is defiantly a work in progress.
Happy Cooking & Happy Eating, Leah