Winter has officially arrived. We know this not from the morning’s frost bitten pavements, or even from that festive anticipation hanging in the air. No, we can tell from the sudden and insatiable cravings we have for all things warm and hearty. Salads are practically laughable, sandwiches cold and limp and even chocolate bars are no longer satisfying. The staples now? Piping hot peppermint drinks and steaming bowls of hearty stew. Yes, winter turns even the hardiest of us into heat-craving grandmas, and frankly we quite like it. The cold? Not so much. The promise of wholesome, hot food on a chilly evening? Sheer, wintery bliss. We can think of nothing better right now than curling up on the sofa with a bowl of something creamy, luscious and light and this cheesy risotto fits the bill perfectly.
Now, risotto has built up quite the reputation. Wonderfully tasty, yes but ridiculously complex with its regimented stirring and oh-so-special Arborio rice. It’s probably the kind of thing you’d order in a restaurant but shy away from in the kitchen. Fear not. This stripped down version is far from terrifying and proves that risotto can be a deliciously easy one pot wonder, with no need for fancy ingredients or meticulous stirring. Just 15 minutes of prep time and a little TLC gives you a rich pot of risotto with all the characteristics of a perfect winter supper.
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
200g long grain rice [i.e. the normal stuff]
3 rashers bacon
1 pint vegetable stock
100g sliced mushrooms
100g frozen peas
50g grated cheese
1 tbsp Oil
Peel and chop the onion, remove the fat from the bacon and slice into small pieces. Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onion and bacon gently for a few minutes until the onions are soft and translucent. Then, add the rice and stir well to coat it evenly with the fried bacon and onion. Season with salt and pepper and pour in the vegetable stock. Stir until it begins to boil then turn the gas right down so that it is just bubbling. Place a lid on the saucepan and leave to simmer away for about 15 minutes.
By now, the stock should have been fully absorbed and you may want to turn the heat off to save the mixture from drying out. Stir in the frozen peas and once well mixed heat a little oil in a separate frying pan. Add the mushrooms to the pan and fry for 4-5 minutes until golden brown.
Stir the mushrooms and grated cheese into the risotto and re-heat for about 5 minutes until steaming hot. Serve straight away with a good hunk of crusty bread, a sprinkling of extra cheese and a side of trashy TV in front of a roaring fire. Perfect.
By Danni Slater
By Danni Slater