As the nights draw in and the temperature in my flat plunges well below what I would consider optimal to mooch about in a flimsy silk dressing gown and cashmere socks (in manner of The White Company brochure), I start to seriously consider the pros and cons of hibernation. Polar bears are my favourite animal and they seem to manage. And isn’t everyone saying that we should all go ‘off-grid’ once in a while? I do rather like the idea of applying for a sabbatical from work and in the ‘please state your reasons’ section, writing simply ‘health reasons: hibernation’. Teehee.
It’s just so depressing living in the dark. It makes me want to swaddle myself in a blanket on the sofa, build a cheese toastie barricade with me on one side and the rest of the world on the other, and sit there, in my perfectly snuggly den, gorging on carbs and watching back-to-back episodes of Friends until the sun returns.
Unfortunately, you’ve probably realised that most of us can’t afford to hibernate for 3 months of the year (and you’d miss Christmas to be fair) and the sun isn’t coming back for a good while yet. Bummer. So to cheer you up, how about some comfort food of the highest order? This warming risotto is slick with butter and parmesan, and the saffron and Pernod add heady, fragrant notes to lift the richness a little. It also happens to be the happiest, sunniest yellow there ever was.
Hailing from Milan (it’s also called risotto alla Milanese), this dish is traditionally served in Italy as a primo or first course, or as an accompaniment to the infamous osso buco (braised veal shank). However, it also makes a lush main course au naturel, with a fresh rocket salad on the side, or with a fillet of pan-fried white fish (cod, hake and sea bass would all work a treat) on top to complement the Pernod.
Sunny saffron risotto
Serves 2 as a main
– 1 teaspoon saffron threads
– 600ml hot chicken stock*
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 small onion, finely diced
– 175g arborio rice
– 100ml white wine
– 60ml Pernod
– 50g parmesan*, finely grated
– largish knob butter
– salt & pepper, to taste
*To make a vegetarian version, use veggie stock and a vegetarian parmesan-style cheese instead.
Soak the saffron threads in the hot stock to infuse.
Meanwhile, in a wide-based pan, heat the olive oil and sweat the onion for a few minutes until soft and translucent (do not let it brown!).
Add the rice, stir well to coat the grains in the oil, pour in the wine and Pernod, and turn up the heat. Once the rice has absorbed the booze, turn the heat down to a gentle simmer.
Add the stock to the pan, one lug every few minutes, as fast as the rice can absorb it. Tip: The key is to stir regularly and not let the rice stick to the bottom of the pan! Keep checking the rice – you may need a little more or a little less than the 600ml stock stated.
Once cooked (you still want a little bite to the rice), stir in 3/4 of the parmesan, the butter, and season to taste with salt and a few generous grinds of black pepper. Put the lid on and let the risotto rest for about five minutes to let all the flavours mingle.
Serve warm with the remaining parmesan.
Source: Recipe and photos from pip & little blue.