Herb and lemon risotto with parma ham crumbs
- April 2015
- 3 parma ham slices
- Olive oil
- 40g fresh breadcrumbs
- 2 large knobs of butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 litre fresh chicken stock
- 180g arborio rice
- Glug (about 50ml) dry white wine
- Grated zest and juice 1-2 lemons
- Small bunch each fresh mint, basil and parsley, well chopped
- Fry the parma ham in a drizzle of oil over a medium-high heat for 2 minutes or until crisp, turning once. Set aside on kitchen paper. Fry the breadcrumbs in the same pan (add more oil if needed) until golden, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
- Heat 1 knob of the butter and a generous drizzle of oil in a wide, deep frying pan over a low-medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook gently for 8-10 minutes until soft and sweet.
- Meanwhile, bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan, cover and leave on the hob.
- Turn the heat under the frying pan to medium-high, then add the rice and toss to coat. Stir for 1 minute so the rice turns slightly translucent. Add the wine and stir until evaporated. Add one ladleful of the stock and stir until incorporated (see tips). Keep adding the stock in the same way until it’s all used up. The rice should be tender and the risotto creamy.
- Stir through the zest of 1 lemon, taste and season well. Add the remaining butter, the herbs and a big squeeze of lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Serve the risotto in warm bowls, scattered with the breadcrumbs, parma ham and lemon zest.
Cook the onions and garlic slowly. The onions should be soft and sweet, but not yet golden (it will take at least 8 minutes). If the edges are browning, add a splash of water and turn down the heat.
Keep the stock hot If it’s added to the rice cold, it will halt the cooking process and leave you with an unevenly cooked finished dish. Keep it on a low simmer.
Be patient You don’t need to stir the risotto constantly – add the stock one ladleful at a time and stir regularly. Make sure the liquid is fully absorbed before you add the next. Stirring regularly encourages the starch out of the rice, giving a creamy texture (it also stops the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan). When stirring the risotto, scrape all around the pan.
Fry sliced fennel and chilli with the onions, then add some prawns near the end. Or stir through roasted squash cubes and a spoonful of mascarpone. Or add grated parmesan and fresh sage, then serve with a fried egg. The options are endless.
Chop herbs at the last minute so they stay vibrant. Don’t skimp on lemon juice or seasoning – risotto needs acidity and salt.
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