Thursday, 6 January 2011
Liver and Bacon Risotto
When I made the New Year resolution to include more healthy eating tips on this blog to help others perhaps keep their resolutions, I thought that I had to start with something particularly significant. I therefore deemed to come up with something representative of my favourite healthy forms of cuisine. For many years, Chinese food (real Chinese food - not the monosodium glutamate enhanced concoctions churned out by a great many takeaway restaurants) was my favourite form of cooking, both for its quickness of preparation and its delicious textures and ingredients, as much as for its healthy properties. Although Chinese food remains a great favourite of mine in all of these respects, it has in modern times at least been matched by Mediterranean cuisine, specifically that of Italy and Spain.
So I had to decide: Italy or Spain? In the end, I decided to do a combination of both. Risotto is of course an Italian dish but this Liver and Bacon Risotto was inspired by a dish which I remember eating in a small cafe on the Spanish island of Majorca, quite a number of years ago. I unfortunately cannot recall the Spanish name of what was a local Majorcan dish but it was, as closely as I can recall, an offal based paella, incorporating liver, heart and all sorts of other delicious cuts of meat. I decided to be less adventurous, however, on this occasion to ensure wider appeal and confine myself to liver, along with bacon and a selection of vegetables...
This recipe is for two people.
1/2lb lamb's liver
2 rashers of bacon
4oz risotto rice (note that long grain or basmati are not suitable substitutes)
1 pint of fresh chicken stock (A British pint, ie 20 fl oz = 1 1/4 US pints)
1 small white onion
1/2 a red bell pepper
2 closed cup mushrooms
1 tbsp broad beans (preferably fresh but canned in water will work)
1 clove of garlic
1 oz butter
Sunflower oil for frying the liver and bacon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Few mint leaves for garnish
It is firstly necessary to fry the liver and the bacon. This can be done in the pan in which the risotto is to be made, which needs to be fairly large and deep, with a lid. A little bit of sunflower oil should be added before the liver is gently fried for about three or four minutes until cooked. It should be removed to a plate or small bowl and the bacon fried for a couple of minutes each side, before it is placed with the liver. The pan should be set aside to cool slightly, before it is wiped clean with some kitchen towel.
The onion should be peeled, halved and finely sliced. The garlic clove should be finely sliced. The butter should then be melted gently in the frying pan before the onion and garlic is added. They should be gently heated for around ten minutes until transluscent but not browned. One tip here is to add a couple of teaspoons of cold water after a couple of minutes, which will help to keep the onions from discolouring.
The dry rice should be added to the pan when the onions are transluscent. It should take around five to ten minutes for the grains to take on a similar appearance.
It is then time to heat the chicken stock in a pot and begin adding it to the pan. This should be done in three or four evenly spaced stages, over the course of about twenty minutes, without stirring. The remainder of the ingredients will then start to be added.
The bell pepper half should be deseeded and thinly sliced. The mushrooms should also be sliced. The liver and bacon should be fairly roughly chopped. All of these ingredients and the broad beans should then be added to the frying-pan, very gently folded through and the mixture allowed to simmer for a further five minutes. There should after this time still be a little bit of liquid remaining. This will be absorbed when the lid is placed on the pan, off the heat, and it is allowed to sit for ten minutes.
When the lid is removed from the pan, no liquid should remain but the rice should be fluffy and light, not stuck together or to the frying-pan.
Basil would perhaps be the herb most commonly used to garnish a risotto but just as mint sauce would be added to more traditionally prepared lamb's liver, I have on this occasion used mint, to what I believe to be great effect...