Monday, 2 April 2012

Courgette, Goats' Cheese and Thyme Risotto

Slow cooking in olive oil and butter coaxes the flavour out of courgettes, I think it is the best treatment for them. I really recommend cooking them separately and then stirring into the risotto at the end of cooking instead of chucking them in with the onions and garlic. It does involve an extra saucepan, the courgettes will end up watery and flavourless, leaving you wondering why you used them in the first place.
I had a little cream left in the fridge that needed using up, so I added it to the risotto at the end. It's still rich without it though, so whether you use it or not is up to you.

3 medium sized courgettes
Olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
1 onion, peeled and chopped medium-fine
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
500g risotto rice
small glass dry white wine
1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock
4 tbsp parmesan, + extra for the table
200g soft goats cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp cream (optional)

Finely slice the courgettes, and slowly fry in a knob of butter and a tsp of olive oil. Turn from time to time, but mostly let them gently cook by themselves until they're melting. In the last five minutes of cooking add in the chopped thyme. Take off the heat and squeeze over the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a heavy based saucepan, melt another spoonful of butter and fry the onion and garlic in it over a medium low heat until softened. Put the stock in another saucepan and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat up under the onions, and stir in the rice. Cook for about a minute, stirring, so that the grains 'toast' slightly. Pour in the wine (keep stirring), and once it has absorbed into the rice, add the first ladleful of stock. Once that has absorbed, add another ladle of it, and so on. Stir all the time, so it cooks evenly, and to achieve the lovely creamy texture of a good risotto. Once the rice is cooked (soft but not mush) stir in the courgettes, Then take off the heat and add another spoon of butter, the 4 tablespoons of parmesan and the cream, if using. Mix it in, put a lid on the pan, and leave for 2 minutes. This final stage is the mantecura, the thickening of the risotto. Sprinkle over the goats cheese just before serving.

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