I have to admit, until recently I wasn’t a big fan of risotto, most probably because no matter where I ate it, it always tastes raw and like chalk. And just to be clear, al dente means raw to me when it comes to risotto and pasta! So not being a fan of risotto, I hardly cook it and dread it when a client requests risotto, which happened with my last private Sunday lunch where I was the chef. My very dear and nice client insisted on risotto, because she likes it a lot. And so started a journey to learn asap how to cook perfect risotto and who better to learn from than an Italian friend of mine! I followed his instructions to the letter and below in the method I have published, is his detailed way of cooking risotto. The risotto was perfect, I am a convert and my client was one very happy and satisfied woman!
The Duck Breast:
The duck breast was simply scored on the skin, seasoned with salt, pepper and a little mixed spice, pan-fried skin down until crispy, turned over in the pan and baked in a 180°C oven for 8 minutes. Remove from oven after 8 minutes, set on a plate and cover with tin foil allowing the meat to rest while you continue with the risotto. This will result in a duck breast that is still very pink inside, if you prefer a more done breast, then pan fry the breast on the other side also for about 2 minutes before finishing them off in the oven. To make a light jus to drizzle over the risotto, drain all the fat from your pan except for a little, add one chopped shallot, one whole garlic clove, peeled and a sprig of rosemary and fry until soft over low heat. Add 100ml good brandy to the pan and allow the alcohol to cook off. Add 200ml vegetable stock and a teaspoon of smooth Dijon mustard. Stir and cook until reduced by a third. Strain and keep warm until needed.
For the Risotto:
Prep Time: 10 mins | Cook Time: 30 min| Recipe: Very Easy | Serve: 4
- 400g Risotto
- 2 Shallots, chopped
- 50g Butter + 50g to Finish
- 1L Strong Chicken Stock, should be hot
- 125ml Sauvignon Blanc
- 2 Rosemary Sprigs
- 40g Grated Parmesan
- Fry the shallots over low heat in 50g of the butter until soft.
- Add the risotto and sprigs of rosemary ensuring that they are coated with the butter and fry them for about 5 minutes with the shallots.
- After the 5 minute fry, turn the heat to maximum add the 125ml wine and cook off the alcohol.
- Add a ladle of chicken stock and stir the risotto continually. Repeat this step until there is only one ladle of stock left. This process will take about 20 minutes.
- Once there is one ladle of stock left, turn heat off, fish out the rosemary, add the butter and parmesan and stir vigorously for about a minute, allow the risotto to settle.
- Drizzle now the last ladle of stock over the risotto, put the lid on and let it stand and steam while you get your plates ready, carve the duck breasts and take the baked vegetables out of the oven.
- Once you are ready to plate the risotto, take the lid off, stir well and plate. The risotto should be soft to the bite, creamy, but still hold its form. It should not spread all over the plate, it is risotto, not a soup!
- Add a generous spoon of risotto to your warm plate.
- Set the baked vegetable on one side and the carved duck breast on the other side.
- Drizzle just a little jus over, don’t drown the risotto.
- Serve warm with a good wine of your choice.
This is bistro-style food, it is simple, but delicious and packed with flavour. Make sure you actually make extra risotto, because your guests will ask for more! I had to cook a second batch as there wasn’t enough for everybody who wanted seconds!