Roast Vegetable Risotto
9th March 2007
I've always had problems with risotto, because so often when I've made
it, it's come out tasting bland. OK, but dull. I had a big
breakthrough when I started to roast vegetables separately and add
them at the end: the dry cooking somehow concentrates the flavours,
and the end result is much more pungent.
The other thing to remember about risotto is that you absolutely have
to have the right kind of rice, which means arborio. Trying to make
it with any other kind of rice dooms you to disaster. I am not
usually a Proper Ingredients Fascist, but for arborio rice I make an
It takes a while to make this, both because roasting vegetables is a
slow business and because the rice has to be nurtured along. I'd
guess something like three quarters of an hour should cover it, but
I've never timed myself.
- A couple of pints of chicken stock
- A tablespoon of olive oil
- A knob of butter
- A big onion, finely chopped
- A 16oz tin of tomatoes
- Several handfuls of arborio rice
- A carrot, a peppers and a red onion
- A big lump of butter
- Optional: cooked chicken meat
- To garnish: grated cheese
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Leave it to come up to
temperature while you do the other steps.
- Put the stock on the heat so it'll have come to the boil by the
time you need it. If you don't have real stock, I suppose you
can manage with powder or cubes.
- Warm the olive oil in a non-stick pan and melt the butter in it.
- Add the onions and leave them to fry for several minutes. If
they start to stick and burn a little, that's all to the good,
but don't overdo it.
- Coarsely chop the vegetables (carrot, pepper, red onion), put
them in a roasting tin and put the tin in the over, which
hopefully is hot enough by now. (If it's not, put them in
anyway. It'll get there in the end.)
- Add the rice to the cooking onion and stir it in well, so that
the rice and onion are thoroughly mixed. Don't let the rice
stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Now you need to add the stock to the rice, a little at a time --
somewhere between half a cup and a whole cup. You'll need to
stir it enough to prevent sticking. Add each batch of stock
when the last is absorbed, and make sure the stock is boiling.
- By the time all the stock is absorbed, the rice should be nice
and fat and chewy. Take the rice off the heat, add the big
lump of butter and let it melt in.
- Are your vegetables cooked yet? They'd better be. If they are,
add them to the rice and mix them in; if not, go back to
Old Kent Road.
- If you have a chicken carcass to hand, throw in some of the
cooked meat, chopped or torn into bite-sized chunks. Mix it
- Serve in bowls, sprinkled with cheese. Personally, I like a good
cheddar for this, but purists will prefer parmesan. Whatever
you do, don't use the kind of faux parmesan that comes
in tubs and smells suspiciously like sick.
- Finally, if you followed these instructions correctly, you should
be left with a tin of tomatoes. Put it back in the cupboard:
you won't be needing it after all.
This is best eaten as soon as it's ready. Not that it doesn't keep
well for the next day or two, but there's something extra special
about a brand new risotto.