With its shocking colour and sound fl avour, this one’s quite the exhibitionist. I love the layers of flavour and texture that the stir-ins and toppings give the risotto here, but keep it nice and simple if that’s how you like it. Serve as a main course, a starter or as a lovely little extra alongside a nice bit of beef or oily fish like salmon or mackerel.
- Cut any leaves away from the beetroot, wash them, pop them in a pan and cover with cold water. Boil till tender and easily pierced with a knife – allow 20 minutes for smaller beet. Set aside to cool.
- Dice the shallots and garlic with a small sharp knife. Pour the chicken/vegetable stock into a pan, bring it to the boil then lower to a simmer.
- Peel the beet. Chop and blitz in a processor with 4 tablespoons of hot stock or use a stick blender to make a thick, smooth purée. Prep your choice of stir-ins/toppings.
- Put a second pan on to heat. Add the butter and oil. Once hot, add the shallot and garlic, stirring with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to low and cook very gently for 5 minutes, till the onion softens.
- Tip the unwashed rice into the pan and stir well to coat it. Cook for a minute, stirring. Increase the heat. Add the wine and stir till it’s almost absorbed, then add a large ladle full of hot stock immediately. Add the thyme, if using.
- Reduce the heat to medium so the mix keeps bubbling a bit but doesn’t cook too fiercely as it absorbs the new liquid. Once absorbed, add another ladle of stock and keep stirring.
- Repeat until the stock is just about used and the rice is just about cooked (test a grain – the end result wants to be soft but with a tiny bit of texture and the risotto itself should neither be stiff and dry nor wet and soupy), about 15–20 minutes. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice.
- Stir in two-thirds of the beetroot purée. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the rest of the purée now (or add later as a topping) plus your choice of stir-ins and half the parmesan. Stir in the butter to make it glossy. Taste and adjust.
- Turn off the heat, put the lid on the pan and leave to rest for 3 minutes.
- Spoon the risotto into warm shallow bowls and finish with the remaining parmesan and your choice of toppings.
From Sam Stern’s Cookery Course for Students in the Kitchen (Quadrille)
Photograph by Chris Terry