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Ella's Emergency Risotto

We thought we would share with you one of the many great recipes from our January Under The Covers book club read. The title of 'emergency risotto' struck me as so delightfully and greedily urgent that I just had to share it with you. Made up mostly of ingredients we already have lurking around in our kitchen cupboards, this comforting treat can be jazzed up with seasonal fresh ingredients such as the kale and walnuts in the recipe. Alternatively, simply top the oozy rice with generous amount of cheese and eat in bed.



Emergency Risotto
from 'Midnight Chicken (& other recipes worth living for) by Ella Risbridger



6 garlic cloves

2 onions

400g kale

Handful of walnuts

200g diced pancetta

Butter or olive oil, for frying

400g carnaroli or arborio 

About 600ml chicken stock (or 1 chicken stock cube dissolved in 600ml boiling water)

About 300ml white wine

About 60g parmesan

Dash of lemon juice (optional)

Salt and black pepper


Start with your garlic: chop it as finely as you can manage, and then a little finer (please don't be tempted to grate it - grated garlic can go funny in risotto). Finely chop your onions too. Wash and shred the kale: I do this by putting it in a colander, rinsing vigorously, and then going at it with kitchen scissors. Squeeze the walnuts in your fists ti break them up a little.

Now take your biggest frying pan- a deep one is ideal. Fry the pancetta in the dry pan over a medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until it renders its fat and starts to turn golden. Throw the garlic and onions into the pancetta fat and cook for about 10 minutes; keep an eye on it - you might need to add a bit of oil or butter.

If using home-made stock, bring it to the boil in a small saucepan; if using a stock pot or cube, put the kettle on.

When the onions are translucent, and everything smells good, add the rice and plenty of black pepper. Stir the dry rice through the soft onions, then pour over just enough stock to cover (this always makes me think of walking through a flooded field: the way the water puddles up through the grains as you pour it over, the way the surface seems to shine). Stir occasionally; let the rice absorb the stock. Add the wine. Wait. Stir. Add some more stock. It will stick if you don't keep stirring it, but it almost certainly won't matter too much. Wait. Stir. Taste. Add stock. You can carry on like this for quite some time. The Tall Man notes that making risotto is a very meditative thing, and it is.

After 20 minutes, you can start to taste- before that, the rice will be unpleasantly chalky. I'm with Marcella Hazan on this, and like my rice soft all the way through. Grate in the Parmesan and taste again - you may need salt, or a little lemon juice to cut the fat.

When the rice is done to your taste, or just a little moment before, throw in the kale. A last splash of white wine, if you like; I do like, because I like a slight boozy tang. Lid on for 5 minutes. Stir. Throw in the broken-up walnuts. Stir. Spoon into bowls. Add a last grind of black pepper, and a brief twist of lemon juice. Sofa. Blanket. Slump. Eat.



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