Wednesday 19 November 2014

Baked Risotto | Family Friendly Food

Malcolm Gladwell (world renowned Canadian author, journalist and speaker), says in his best selling book ‘Outliers’, it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a particular field. According to him natural talent doesn’t really play a significant part… So, in theory, you can become a master of anything if you put in the time, effort, and most importantly practice, practice, practice!

I have to say, I love his theory. It’s nice to believe that anything is possible. If you want to become the best pastry chef in the Dublin, a professional footballer, or even beat Murray at a game of Tennis - as the saying goes - ‘if you can imagine it, you can achieve it’, just don’t forget to put in the 10,000 hours!

In that case then, my baked risotto must just about be my masterpiece! I’ve made it so often I’ve definitely clocked up a lot of hours of practice. (I must also be a master at nappy changing – but don’t worry I won’t write a post about that!)

It’s the easiest dish in the world to make and absolutely delicious, but the best thing about it -  it can be easily adapted to different tastes right at the end, so it’s particularly good for any picky eaters in the family.

Here’s the recipe (which I’ve changed a little over the years from Donna Hay - Australian food stylist, author, and magazine editor), the result is perfect risotto every time.

This will make enough for 4 big portions.

275g Arborio rice

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 litre simmering chicken stock, these days I use knorr stock pot stock cubes for convenience

125ml white wine or cooking Marsala

Another 250ml of chicken stock, stirred in right at the end

40g butter

100g grated parmesan

Preheat your oven to 180°C.

To start put your rice and chopped onion in a dutch oven/le creuset casserole pot. It’s really important to use one of these for this recipe. I know they can be expensive but if you don’t have one and are looking to pick one up, conveniently Tesco have an offer on at the moment (collect 10 stickers and get 70% off!). TK Maxx also do them sometimes, and House of Fraser sell them quite reasonably in their sales. Anyway, back to the recipe..!

Add the hot stock and wine to the pot and stir well (I substitute cooking Marsala which is de-alcholised when I’m cooking this for the family).

Pop in the oven with the lid on for 35 minutes.

When you take it out and lift off the lid it should look like this…

…taste a little bit, the rice should be cooked through and still look like individual grains not mushy like porridge. If the rice isn’t fully cooked  pop it back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

Now add the Parmesan and butter. Parmesan happens to be packed with protein (great for growing little ones), calcium, and also a very good source of vitamin A (good for vision, healthy skin and teeth).

Then pour in the final cup of hot stock.

The next bit is really important! You need to stir like crazy for 2 full minutes (you can always play a little Taylor Swift 'Shake it off’ to make it a little more fun!). This will break up all the starch and give the risotto the same creamy unctuous consistency as one that has been carefully tended to with constant stirring at the hob after adding ladle after ladle of hot stock.

Spoon into individual bowls, eat the risotto just like this or add anything you like, this dish is also good for using up any leftovers.  

We like:

Bacon pieces and petit pois

Chorizo and prawns

Homemade pesto

Roasted vegetables


It’s also very toddler friendly as the starchy rice sticks really well to the spoon!

Et voila, the meal that I’ve possibly made the most for my family over the years and they all still love it!

Two lovely quotes to think about while you tuck into your baked Risotto!



Books by Malcolm Gladwell. The Tipping Point, Outliers, David and Goliath, What the Dog Saw, Blink

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