Thursday, September 14, 2006


Lemon Risotto

  I am lame, I know. As soon as we had a coolish evening (75 deg. f./23.9 deg. c.) in Los Angeles, I dove straight for the arborio rice in the cupboard. Ever since owning Nigella Lawson's Nigella Bites, I have been utterly smitten by the Lemon Risotto.

Ms. Lawson whole-heartedly embraces adaptation - in this case, she was inspired by an Anna Del'Conte recipe - and I decided to do the same. Okay, the lying stops here...I didn't have any rosemary, so I used sage. Did it make a difference? Typically I find sage to be quite pungent and sometimes slightly astringent, but the lemon is so over-powering that the sage faded (if you can believe it) nicely into the background. The problem with omitting the rosemary is that there was no nice mellow low note in the flavour package. If you are not a citrus lover, then I suggest you tone it down a little...This easily serves two (it is heavier than it looks!), but it makes for a nice appetizer (as one says in the U.S. - elsewhere: entree, which they consider the "main" in the U.S.!)

Lemon Risotto
(Adapted from Nigella Lawson's Nigella Bites)

2 shallots
1 stick of celery
1/2 stick (60 gms) of butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
10.5 oz (300 gms) arborio rice
4 1/4 cups (1 litre) stock (Nigella recommends vegetable, but I used chicken)
zest and juice of 1/2 unwaxed lemon
5 leaves sage (torn)
1 egg yolk
4 tablespoons (60 ml) grated parmesan
4 tablespoons (60 ml) milk (Nigella suggests double cream - of course)
sea salt

1) Blitz shallots and celery together in a blender until they are a combined, finely chopped mush.
2) Heat half of the butter, the oil, and the shallot and celery mixture in a wide saucepan or heavy bottomed pot. Cook to soften for five minutes.
3) Add the rice, coating it in the oil and butter (the shallot and celery mix will seem to have all but disappeared by this point).
4) Heat the stock in a saucepan and keep it at a simmering point.
5) Add a ladleful of stock to the stock and stir it until it has been absorbed by the rice. Then add another so until the rice is al dente. (All of the stock might not be used, yet water from a hot kettle may also need to be added to supplement should your stock reserves be depleted.)
6) Mix the lemon zest and the sage into the rice.
7) In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk, lemon juice, parmesan, cream, and pepper.
8) When the rice is ready (no longer chalky), remove it from the heat and add the egg yolk mixture, and the remaining butter and salt to taste. Posted by Picasa

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What a scrumptious looking risotto!

Thanks for sharing.
Must try this, Shaun. I like the idea of a lemony risotto with the stolidness lightened by the citrus flavour. It's real risotto weather in Ireland too at the moment (albeit a little cooler!) but when I was going to make it last night, my mind changed half way through - luckily before I added the rice - so I ended up making basmati pilaf instead. Good for lunch though!
Ruth - Thanks for praising the appearance of the risotto. I'm pretty useless with the camera, especially when it comes to getting the lighting "right".

Caroline - I have not yet tried making a pilaf. Not because I think I wouldn't like it, but because everytime I want something loaded with carbs and starch, I head for risotto. Nigella's recipe for Lemon Risotto is hard to beat - at least in my humble opinion. I should imagine Claudia Roden has some good pilaf recipes. To whom do you refer when you make it?
I just love risotto; has gotta be my dessert island dish. So no excuses for not trying this one!
Andrew - Yes, do try this recipe, but I suggest that you stick with the proper Nigella Lawson version. I don't think the sage works as well as the rosemary does. I'm presently researching recipes for risotto, for the dark clouds are beginning to hang around throughout the day now. I love risotto on stormy days especially, but since they are few and far between in southern California, I will happily enjoy this ultimate comfort food on cloudy days.
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