Do you ever reach that time on a Sunday evening where you’re looking to put a family meal together but haven’t done a real shop?
That’s where risotto comes to the rescue. As long as you have arborio rice, some parmesan cheese and some stock then you can add almost anything to a risotto and it will taste great.
This evening I had an eclectic choice of lardons and shitake mushrooms in my fridge plus some emergency rations of shrimp in the freezer, snuggled next to an evergreen bag of frozen peas.
You can see where this is headed.
First I pan-fried the lardons to get them crispy then reserved them in a bowl, taking care to add the lardon grease to the olive oil I was heating in a large rounded skillet ……and then coat the mushrooms and rice (and lardons which I threw in after a minute.)
Now, it just so happens that we’d roasted a chicken last night and had made a great stock from the carcass. With two cups of that stock and two cups of boiling water I had the perfect liquid mix to bring my risotto to life – I added ladle upon ladle over a medium high heat until the rice was al dente (making sure to add the frozen peas and then shrimp during this process).
When the rice was almost cooked I added my risotto piece de la resistance – 1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan-reggiano, 1/4 cup of dry sherry and a healthy chunk of butter. This combo gives the risotto a creamy richness and when most of the liquid has evaporated it’s ready to serve.
My son Dylan loved the lardons and mushrooms but hated the shrimp (it’s a phase.) My daugher Zelda loved the shrimp but didn’t care for the shitakes. Me? I had a double helping of the whole thrown-together Sunday night feast.