Thursday, April 06, 2006

Ramsay's risotto

I have a very good friend that I don’t get to see very much, because he lives at the other end of the country. We chat on the phone about food and life. He has an allotment – I would love to have an allotment, but my Parish Council doesn’t own any. (Apparently there’s a very old law that states that if 6 people want allotments the council has to provide them, so I’m working on it.)

As the growing season gets into gear I am getting bulletins from my friend about the state of his seedlings and the warmth of the soil, and yesterday he sent me a parcel of wonderful Jerusalem artichokes, of which he has a glut.

Jerusalem artichokes are the root of the sunflower (girasol = Jerusalem) and are often known as sunchokes to distinguish them from the other thistly kind. Here’s what he has to say about them:

“Jerusalem artichokes (the ones you have are called Fuseau) are a very underrated vegetable. They are really easy and trouble free to grow. They have almost no natural predators and are generally disease free. They multiply year on year and will take over your garden if you’re not careful.

Plant in March; if you want large tubers enrich the soil with manure/compost and plant the tubers 5 inches deep and about 18 inches apart. The plants grow to about six feet so may need some support otherwise do nothing except begin to dig up in October till February.

Prepare and cook like potatoes (when peeled or scraped they should be placed in water with some lemon or vinegar as the flesh discolours quickly). They can be boiled baked flaked just like spuds but they have a distinctive nutty taste. They make excellent soup - very creamy so don't add strong stock or cream as some of the celeb chefs suggest.”

(I’m going to try and get him to write a regular allotment bulletin for this blog so we can all stay in touch with the soil.)

Meanwhile, here’s a signature dish from one celebrity chef, the great Gordon Ramsay. (I considered leaving out the scallops, but just the thought of the mighty Ramsay, ex football player for Glasgow Rangers, bearing down upon me made me change my mind…but I did leave out the truffle) Take a look at the menu from his Claridge’s restaurant and salivate – even if they don’t know how to spell radish!

Jerusalem artichoke risotto with scallops
Serves 2
Olive oil
200g risotto rice
500ml hot chicken stock
200g Jerusalem artichokes, washed and sliced
100g butter
100ml cream
25g parmesan cheese,
grated Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 large scallops, sliced
50g sugar
50ml sherry vinegar

1 Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a pan, add the rice, and stir for 2-3 minutes so the rice absorbs the oil. Add the stock a little at a time, stirring constantly, until it has all been absorbed and the rice is cooked - around 25-30 minutes.
2 Meanwhile, cook the artichokes in 50g of the butter until soft. Add the cream. Reduce down until the cream has almost evaporated and the artichokes are velvety in texture, stirring every now and then to make sure it’s not catching on the bottom of the pan. Purée in a food processor. Mix the artichoke purée into the rice and add the remaining 50g of butter and the parmesan. Check for seasoning.
3 Slice each scallop into three pieces and sauté in hot oil for 1 minute on each side until they’re medium-rare. Place on top of the risotto. In a heavy-based pan, heat the sugar until it’s a dark golden colour. Carefully add the sherry vinegar and reduce until you have a thick syrup. Drizzle this over the risotto, and serve.

from Kitchen Heaven by Gordon Ramsay

When I was making this I really did feel like I was working in a restaurant kitchen – everything happens at once and you use every pan you own. The sink stacks up with pots and pans and wooden spoons. I forgot to heat the plates. I forgot the parmesan (which I think would have given the missing salty taste), and I would not like to cook this for six people. It’s good though, and the sherry caramel is a real surprise.


lindy said...

How lucky to be presented with jerusalem artichokes. This looks such an elegant dish, but a little scary in terms of last minute running around! I'm always afraid to make things like this for guests, as I get distracted talking to them, and blunder.

Maybe I'll try it just for myself, and see how I do. (I I do that, I will get to eat quite a bit of it, which is a nice thought.)

I like the idea of an allotment bulletin. I wish I had an allotment, myself I don't think we have anything of the kind here in Pgh.

June said...

I was a bit taken aback by the cheffy rushing about I must say - I have always found risotto a rather soothing thing to make! Go easy on the cream - it blandens(?)
the taste of the artichokes - but I don't quite know how you get them blended otherwise.

I'm glad you like the idea of the allotment buletin - I will use it as amunition!

June said...

My fingers have deserted me - I do actually know how to spell ammunition and bulletin.

ezra burgoyne said...

great recipe and instructions -- it turned out a well. a little rich with the butter, but perhaps that's how it's supposed to be.

Gary napier said...

ramsay never serves the coral

June said...

Thank you Gary.

Anonymous said...

What on earth is an allotment? Forgive me I'm American and came upon your blog while searching for a risotto recipe.


June said...

Aaah...allotments. These are plots of land owned by the local parish council which are divided into individual parcels "allotted" to people on which we grow vegetables, fruit, flowers etc. You can put a greenhouse or a shed on them, and some councils let you raise chickens etc. They are, anciently, measured in rods, poles and perches. Lots of people use the word in their blog titles - google for more info.

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