I watch MasterChef a lot. It’s a yearly addiction and probably explains why I am always thinking about food. Or cooking food. Which then leads to eating food. One of the things that is a recurring theme on MasterChef is the humble risotto. They call it the “Dish of Death” because no one can successfully make one that the judges deem worthy of them. So many people have tried and failed. Mushroom risottos, chicken and asparagus risottos, cheesy risottos – they all suck (apparently).
I have never really understood this because I find risotto very easy to make (and even easier to eat, but let’s not talk about that right now). Take this Beetroot Risotto. Delicious. It is totally worth the bright pink fingers you end up with (unless you wear gloves of course, like a sensible person) and is quite a visually impressive dish to create if you want to look good in front of guests. My rather haphazard recipe is as follows :
4 medium beetroots, trimmed of stalks and roots
1 litre vegetable stock
1 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (or 1Tbs minced garlic)
1 1/3 cups (300g) arborio rice
1/3 cup water mixed with juice of half a lemon (or you can use 1/3 cup white wine)
Few sprigs of fresh thyme or Tarragon (I used a bit of both)
1/2 cup frozen baby peas, cooked
Crumbled feta and chopped parsley to garnish
Wrap each of the beetroot individually in foil and place in oven on a baking paper-lined tray. Bake for approximately 45 minutes at 200 C until beetroot is tender.
Meanwhile, bring stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat, pop a lid on to keep it warm, and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan on medium heat. Add onion and garlic, thyme or tarragon; cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until onion softens and turns transparent. Add rice; stir to coat grains with oil.
Increase heat to medium–high.
Add reserved stock one-third at a time, stirring occasionally and allowing rice to absorb stock between additions. Add water + lemon juice in last batch of stock.
Rub off beetroot skin and discard. Dice beetroot into small chunks; set aside. Once rice is al dente, stir in peas and beetroot (the more your stir it in, the brighter red the risotto becomes).
Serve risotto topped with crumbled feta and chopped parsley.
PS In your face, MasterChef!