One of the best things about being on My Kitchen Rules was meeting the other contestants and making lifelong friends. Sounds cheesy, but we really were lucky to have the opportunity to experience the crazy and bizarre world of reality TV.
Since we have left the show we’ve been partaking in regular cooking demonstrations with fellow Western Australian contestant Angela. Last week at one such demo she cooked a lovely risotto. I don’t often cook risotto because it’s time consuming and I’m lazy, but this one was so good, I might have cook it myself.
- 2L good quality chicken stock
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 onions – peeled and chopped finely
- 2 cloves garlic – crushed
- 5 sticks of celery – trimmed and chopped finely
- 2 bunches of asparagus – woody ends removed and discarded
- 250g green peas (fresh or frozen)
- 1 bunch of fresh mint – leaves picked and chopped finely
- 2 lemons – zest removed and juiced
- 600g risotto rice (Arborio rice)
- 250ml dry white wine
- 100g extra butter
- 250g Parmesan cheese – freshly grated
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Food processor (with chopping blade attachment fitted)
- Pot for heating stock
- Large pot for cooking risotto
- Wooden spoon
- Heat stock in pot. Don’t allow to reduce.
- While stock is heating, begin risotto.
- Place onion into food processor and chop finely. Remove.
- Place celery into food processor and chop finely.
- Heat oil and butter in second pot.
- Add onion and garlic and sauté.
- Add celery and heat for around 15 minutes (without colouring) until all ingredients are soft.
- Add risotto rice, it will sizzle. Toast rice, keep all ingredients moving so they don’t catch on the bottom of the pot.
- Add wine and stir gently until all wine evaporates.
- Add the stock to the rice a ladle at a time, stirring and waiting until it has been fully absorbed before adding the next.
- Turn the heat down to low so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly. If it cooks quickly the outside of each grain will be stodgy and the inside hard and nutty.
- Continue to add stock (one ladle at a time). Each time not adding more until the last has been completely absorbed. It should around 15 minutes to use all the stock and will give you rice that is beginning to soften but is still a little al dente.
- Put to one side.
- Finely chop the asparagus stalks into tiny discs, keeping the tips whole.
- Add asparagus and peas to rice mix and heat slightly.
- Turn off the heat, mix in extra butter, Parmesan, mint, the lemon zest and juice.
- Taste and add salt, pepper and more Parmesan as required.
Arborio rice is a short grain rice named after an Italian town where it is grown. It is the best choice when making risotto because of its high content of starch. In particular amylopectin starch.
During the cooking process, rice grains swell and absorb unusually large amounts of liquid and in turn flavour. When stirred, rice grains bump against each other releasing the surface starch on each grain. This adds creaminess that is characteristic of risotto.