Look at you lot giving Nigella, Jamie and Mary Berry a run for their money these last few weeks by showing all your culinary skills on social media. I have to say I have done more cooking over the last few weeks than I have for about 3 years!
That is because we have such an array of indie food places on our doorstep offering so many desirable dishes that we have always eaten out quite a bit and looked forward to our usual hangouts. Not being able to visit these places has been tough but it has brought a new appreciation for the staple ingredients we always took for granted before. Obtaining rice in the first two weeks of lockdown was like trying to track down gold, so when I did find some rice I thought about the recipes I wanted to really use it for.
Risotto is a favourite of mine and I love having this out at restaurants but making at home has always been a pain for me. Standing furiously stirring the pan for 45 mins just didn’t make me feel like I enjoyed it by the time I sat down to eat it so when my friend sent me an oven-baked version, I fell in love.
This has been one of our staples for the last 10 weeks. It uses up store cupboard ingredients plus you can play around with whether it is vegan or not and you can pop in the oven and leave it then take out and enjoy.
Bacon and chicken is always a winner as is chicken and mushroom. I have yet to try making a mushroom risotto where you could use a wide range of different mushrooms from woodland to exotic. I always use white wine as it just makes this dish.
I always use Carnaroli risotto rice as it has a slightly longer grain and has always been quoted as the ‘king of rice’. You can buy this in 500g bags so always lasts a couple of meals.
Oven Baked Risotto
Serves 3 but you can make it to serve 4 by adjusting the rice and liquid.
The cooking time says 25 mins but I always cook for longer maybe 35 to 40 mins.
Half a pack of bacon cut into small squares.
1 onion chopped.
1oz butter or vegan margarine
250g of risotto rice.
One glass of white wine
Chicken pieces diced
700ml hot chicken stock or vegan stock
2oz parmesan grated (optional)
1. Heat oven to 200c/180c fan
2. Fry the bacon and onion with the butter so the onions go a nice yellow colour. Then add the chicken and cook for a good 5 mins.
3. Tip the rice into the pan and mix well until coated.
4. Pour over the white wine and cook for 2 mins until absorbed and soaked in.
5. Add the hot stock then give the pan a good stir.
6. Transfer to an ovenproof casserole dish that has a good tight lid and bake for around 35 mins.
7. You will know when it is done by the liquid mostly gone leaving a lovely creamy rice.
8. Stir through the Parmesan if required and then sprinkle some more on top.
Having made this a few times now, my experience is to check it once to see how it is baking and don’t be afraid of the liquid it needs at the beginning of the oven time as it all gets soaked up.
My next recipe is all about the season at the moment and Jersey Royals are on shelves all over the country but I had never had new potatoes smashed until this recipe. The texture is lovely and it has that distinctive taste. Some might say “how can you spoil a good Jersey Royal by smashing it?” but I think that is what makes this recipe a success. That and the sherry vinegar with the tarragon. The sherry vinegar is an investment and might cost around £6.00 but it will last you over a year.
I have always struggled to get tarragon in any supermarket except Waitrose but if you have your own at home even better!
You can make this vegan by using lots of different mushrooms and getting a vegan type substitute for the creme fraiche.
Chicken and Mushroom Stew with Tarragon Sauce and Smashed Jersey Royals
4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts cut into large chunks.
200g of shallots. (You can buy these already chopped in the freezer section if you don’t want to cut them all).
400g chestnut mushrooms stems trimmed and then halved.
1kg Jersey Royals or baby potatoes.
60ml sherry vinegar. (Here I always add around 50mls)
200ml vegetable or chicken stock (you can always add a little more stock for 4 people to make a sauce go further).
150g fine green beans.
20g of fresh tarragon leaves removed and chopped.
150g of low-fat creme fraiche (again you can always add a bit more for 4 people).
1. Add olive oil to a pan and cook chicken for 5 mins or until browned.
2. Reduce heat to medium and cook the shallots for 8 minutes.
3. Increase the heat and add the mushrooms for 5 mins until browned.
4. Meanwhile boil the potatoes until tender.
5. Add green beans once trimmed to a separate pan and boil until tender.
6. Add the vinegar and let it reduce for 2 mins.
7. Add the stock to the pan and give a good stir and then add half of the tarragon.
8. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 mins.
9. Add the green beans to the pan.
10. Remove from the heat and stir in the creme fraiche.
11. Drain the jersey royals then return back to the pan and add a small amount of butter or vegan spread and crush the potatoes slightly with a masher. Doing this gently gives great texture to the dish.
12. Serve up the stew on plates and sprinkle the remaining tarragon on top then serve the potatoes at the side. Add a twist of black pepper to the potatoes if desired.
If you do try these recipes please give feedback if you have enjoyed them x