Pea and Ham Risotto

So… the ham hock lives on! 

After my pea and ham soup yesterday I was pleased to find that I had enough ham left over for a decent sized risotto. Some fear risotto, but I’m not too sure why. Although I don’t think David Lamb’s sharp intake of breath on learning that one of the Come Dine With Me contestants is making a risotto helps matters. Yes there’s a bit of stirring involved, yes it takes time, but no, you don’t have to stand over it as it cooks, just check on it every 2-3 minutes or so (which in these open plan times means that you can still watch the telly).

Wanting to stretch my ham hock to the max I decided to make one big enough for four, which means that I have managed to get four portions of pea and ham soup AND four portions of risotto from a £1.89 piece of meat. Bargain!

To make my risotto I heated up some olive oil in a large pan, added one, finely diced, white onion and cooked it until soft. I also added some fresh thyme. Then went in 300g arborio rice and a good old slosh of white wine. Once the rice had soaked up the wine, I started adding the stock, which I’d been keeping warm on the hob. I used vegetable stock this time and I have been kicking myself all day for not saving the leftover stock from cooking the hock yesterday. Don’t you make that mistake! Anyway, 300g of rice will need about a litre of stock.

I added the stock ladle by ladle, waiting for each one to completely soak into the rice before adding the next. I think, all in, it probably took around 20-25 minutes until all the stock had been soaked up into the rice. About halfway through this process I added some chopped up wild garlic. 

I then made a bit of a balls up as I wanted to split the risotto into two portions, one for the freezer, before adding in the cooked hock and peas (re-heating meat more than once is bad, in case you didn’t know). So I made the risotto, split it and then added semi frozen peas and my cooked hock to one half. And, as I had to wait for the the peas to cook and the ham to warm up, the risotto overcooked. It suffered a further disaster as I added too much cheese (yes, you heard right – too much cheese – there is such a thing). It didn’t help that it was cheddar and not Parmesan… so it was all a bit stodgy as the cheese made the already gluey overcooked risotto stickier. It also kinda drowned the ham flavours.


It was still tasty, but next time I will add the ham and peas at the same time as my last ladle of stock, or even at the penultimate ladle, unless I’m freezing again, in which case I’ll cook the peas and ham separately before stirring in at the last minute. I’ll also invest in some Parmesan…

What was I saying about fearing the risotto?!
***
So, what are your favourite risotto combos? I asked Twitter and got some interesting responses including…

“Yellow beetroot and vanilla” (@RutlandArmsChef) and “Smoked haddock, cheddar and a soft poached egg hiding in the middle” (@PaulDCocker), but perhaps my favourite sounding combo has to go to @Luke__Hood for his “Smoked Haddock, Chorizo and Manchego risotto with quail eggs lobbed in.” 

Magnificent… and here’s the recipe…”Cook risotto. Fry chorizo til crunchy. Save oil. Flake in fish 5 mins before end. Grate in Manchego 1 min from end. Top with chorizo bits. Poached Quail egg on too. Drizzle with chorizo oil. Sorted :)”

Sorted, indeed!
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