Monday, September 15, 2008

Salmon Risotto with Cucumber and Tarragon

This simple Italian risotto is cooked all in one go and is therefore easier than the usual risotto. If you prefer to cook the traditional way, add the liquid gradually, adding the salmon about two-thirds of the way through cooking. Recipe serves 4.


2 tablespoons butter
Small bunch spring onions, white parts only, chopped
1/2 cucumber, peeled seeded and chopped
1 3/4 cups risotto rice
5 cups hot chicken or fish stock
2/3 cup dry white wine
1 pound (500 g) salmon fillet, skinned and diced
3 tablespoons fresh chopped tarragon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Heat the butter in a large saucepan and add the spring onions and cucumber. Cook for 2-3 minutes without letting the spring onions colour.
2. Stir in the rice, then pour in the stock and wine. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Stir in the diced salmon and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Continue cooking for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then switch off the heat. Cover and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
4. Remove the lid, add the chopped tarragon and mix lightly. Spoon into a warmed bowl and serve.

Variation: Carnaroli risotto rice would be excellent in this risotto, although if it is not available, Arborio can be used instead.

Leek, Mushroom and Lemon Risotto

Leeks and lemon go together beautifully in this light Italian risotto, while mushrooms add texture and extra flavor. Recipe serves 4.


8 ounces (250 g) trimmed leeks
2-3 cups brown cap mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
6 tablespoons water
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 3/4 cups risotto rice
5 cups simmering vegetable stock
Grated rind of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons mixed chopped fresh chives and flat leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper


1. Slice the leeks in half lengthwise, wash them well and slice them evenly. Wipe the mushrooms with kitchen paper and chop them roughly.
2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the garlic for a minute. Add the leeks, mushrooms and plenty of seasoning and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes, or until the leeks have softened and browned. Spoon into a bowl and set aside.
3. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to the pan. As soon as it has melted, add the onion and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes until it has softened and is golden.
4. Stir in the rice and cook for about 1 minute until the grains begin to look translucent and are covered in the fat. Add a large spoonful of stock and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has been absorbed.
5. Continue to add stock, a spoonful at a time, until all of it has been absorbed, and stirring constantly. This should take about 25-30 minutes. The risotto will turn thick and creamy and the rice should be tender but not sticky.
6. Just before serving, add the leeks and mushrooms, with the remaining butter. Stir in the grated lemon rind and juice. Add the grated Parmesan cheese and the herbs. Adjust the seasoning and serve immediately.

Risotto with Chicken

This is a classic Italian combination of chicken and rice, cooked with Parma ham, white wine and Parmesan cheese. Recipe serves 6.


2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces (250 g) skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 1/2 cups risotto rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
3 pints (1.75 litres) simmering chicken stock
2ounces (60 g) Parma ham, cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons butter, cubed
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flat leaf parsley, to garnish


1. Heat the oil in a frying pan over moderately high heat. Add the chicken cubes and cook, stirring, until they start to turn white.
2. Reduce the heat to low and add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the onion is soft. Stir in the rice, saute for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until all the rice grains are coated in oil.
3. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the wine has been absorbed. Stir the saffron into the simmering stock, then add large spoonfuls of stock to the rice, allowing each to be absorbed before adding the next.
4. When the rice is three-quarters cooked, add the Parma ham and continue cooking until the rice is just tender and the risotto creamy.
5. Add the butter and the Parmesan and stir well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the risotto hot, sprinkled with a little more Parmesan, and garnish with parsley.

Monk Fish Risotto

Monk fish is a versatile, firm-textured fish with a superb flavor, which is accentuated with lemon grass in this sophisticated Italian risotto. Recipe serves 3-4.


Seasoned flour
About 1 pound (500 g) monk fish, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 ounces (45 g) butter
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 lemon grass stalk, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups risotto rice, preferably Carnaroli
3/4 cup dry white wine
4 cups simmering fish stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Salt and white pepper
Dressed salad leaves, to serve


1. Spoon the seasoned flour over the monk fish cubes in a bowl. Toss the monk fish until coated.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil with half the butter in a frying pan. Fry the monk fish cubes over a medium to high heat for 3-4 minutes until cooked, turning occasionally. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
3. Heat the remaining oil and butter in a saucepan and fry the spring onions over a low heat for about 4 minutes until soft but not brown. Add the lemon grass and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
4. Tip in the rice. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring, until the rice is coated with oil and is slightly translucent. Gradually add the wine and the hot stock, stirring and waiting until each addition has been absorbed before adding the next.
5. When the rice is about three-quarters cooked, stir in the monk fish. Continue to cook the risotto, adding the remaining stock and stirring constantly until the grains of rice are tender, but still retain a bit of "bite". Season with salt and white pepper.
6. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the parsley and cover with the lid. Leave the risotto to stand for a few minutes before serving with a garnish of dressed salad leaves.

Tip: Lemon grass adds a subtle flavor to this dish. Remove the tough outer skin and chop the inner flesh finely.