Since getting booted off my allotment due to time constraints and a subsequent unruly and weed dominated plot, I have missed the freshness of veg harvested the day you bring it home. Apparently, most of the stuff available in supermarkets has sometimes been hanging around for months on end in high-tech cold storage – maybe not a bad thing considering the high demand for food but fresher is always better I think.
I keep meaning to use local farmers’ markets more but trips there are only very sporadic at best. Last weekend I finally made it to a local organic grower on the outskirts of my home town that I’d heard about a long time ago but similarly never managed to get there on their only open day. I wasn’t quite sure I’d got to the right place upon approaching as it’s set next to a vineyard down a long track and has very understated signage. I parked up and walked across a field to what looked like the main hub of the site – a few big polytunnels and sheds.
It was a while before I got served as they were doing a pick to order service that day and there was someone ahead of me. Nevertheless, once in the queue I got a look at what was available. Purple sprouting broccoli, ruby and normal chard, celeriac, savoy regrowth, potatoes and eggs. Wonderful! The chard was the first to go that night and although I somehow feel it would have been better used for it’s own sake (just simply steamed) it added a beautiful earthy roundness to the risotto. I realise that I’m mixing cultures here with the chorizo, which some might find odd but it was all the cured meat I had available that day. It worked well enough I thought.
3 medium thinly sliced onions
2 tablespoons EV olive oil
a 2″ chunk of chorizo or salami cut into small pieces.
3 small gherkins chopped into small pieces
1/4 tps dried chilli flakes
big bunch of chopped chard – didn’t weigh but possibly 250g
4 cloves garlic
freshly ground pepper and salt
500g risotto rice
1 glass dry vermouth or white wine
2 pints of hot chicken or vegetable stock – keep at a gentle simmer on the hob.
1 mozzarella ball
In a heavy and large pan, gently fry the onions in the oil until soft and translucent. Add gherkins, chorizo, chilli, garlic and finely chopped chard until chard has softened and then add salt and pepper. Add rice and stir in well to get well mixed with the other ingredients in the pan. Add the vermouth and cook off until dry. This shouldn’t take long at all and as soon as it has add a cup or ladle of the stock. Turn the heat down. Stir the mix until liquid has been largely been absorbed and then add another ladle and continue to stir every 1/2 minute until absorbed again.
Continue in this fashion until the rice is creamy but still has some bite. It takes around 15 minutes once the stock has been added. If you run out of stock add some boiling water until consistency is good. Break up the mozzarella ball on the top and drizzle over some good olive oil or a big knob of butter. Cover and leave to sit for 5 minutes while you shave some parmesan for the plating up. Dish out as soon as possible onto warmed plates. (Matthew)