Saffron and Artichoke Risotto

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The traditional method of making risotto is to add hot stock frequently, but in small quantities, to the saucepan of cooking rice. Once cooked, it must be served and eaten at once, otherwise residual heat in the risotto means that any liquid continues to be absorbed, overcooking the grains. This useful method allows the cook to prepare at least part of the dish in advance – it works well in restaurant kitchens and allows some flexibility when cooking at home for dinner parties.

Ingredients

  • 4 large globe artichokes
  • 1 tablespoon white wine
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

For the Risotto

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion
  • 200g (7oz/scant 1 cup) risotto rice
  • 100 ml (3Β½fl oz/Β½ cup) white wine
  • a large pinch of saffron threads
  • 700 ml (1 pint 5fl oz/3 cups) chicken stock
  • 50g (2 oz/Β½ cup) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 25g (1 oz/ΒΌ stick) butter
  • 1 tablespoon mixture of chopped basil, chives and parsley
  • salt and pepper

Method

To prepare the artichokes, snap off and discard the stalks, then trim away the base, sides and leaves as described.

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and add the wine. Drop each artichoke heart in the lemon juice and then in the pan. Cover with greaseproof or parchment paper and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Leave to cool in the cooking liquid.

To make the risotto, heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and sweat the onion. Add the rice and cook for 3 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and the wine and let this evaporate completely.

Add the saffron and 225ml (8fl oz/1 cup) of the stock. Bring to the boil and switch off the heat. Leave the rice to absorb the liquid, which will take about 20 minutes. (After this stage the rice can be left for 1 to 2 days if necessary.)

Fifteen minutes before you want to eat, pour the remaining stock over the rice, stir briefly and simmer until nearly all the liquid has been absorbed.

Quarter the artichokes and stir them into the risotto with the grated cheese, butter and chopped mixed herbs. Leave for 3 to 4 minutes to thicken, then serve.

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