Getting acquainted with freedom

Ok, so the word ‘freedom’, and a rather unappealing picture of a risotto, (which, trust me, tastes so much better than it looks) don’t really seem to match up too well, but bear with me…. Having come down from the post-essay relief/euphoria, life feels a little strange. I’m not used to this freedom of being able to choose what I want to do! For the last several months piles of uni reading and essays have pretty much made all the decisions for me. Yes, ok, I do have another pile of reading to do, (even bigger than the last one), and a dissertation to write. But I’m having a little break just now to recover from the latest set of essays. And the freedom feels very strange. Shall I write on my blog? Or read some other blogs? I do really need to do some course reading, but then maybe I could just read a cook book for a little bit? Or I could watch a film? Or go shopping? So many choices!… I’m aware  I may well be sounding a little sad by this point, but I just haven’t quite adjusted to a life that’s no longer governed by essays yet.

One of the great things is having more time to think about what I’m going to cook and  coming up with some of my own recipes, like the chicken and pea risotto I cooked last night. I’ve been finding risotto a little bland lately so I was intent on ensuring this one really tasted of something. Normally I would just throw some peas into a risotto towards the end, but I figured puréeing some to stir in might bring out the pea flavour a little more. I was fairly generous with the garlic and lemon zest too and fortunately, this time, the end result was really tasty. You know when you keep scraping your empty plate, and then the empty saucepan, just to try and get out that last little bit of taste? Well, that was me with this risotto. And you’ve got that risotto comfort factor too, which is quite a nice remedy for that weird post-essay feeling.

Pea and Chicken Risotto

Serves 4

  • 1.5 litres veg or chicken stock
  • 40g butter
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 300g risotto rice
  • small glass white wine
  • 300g frozen peas
  • 2-3 cupfuls of cooked, shredded chicken.
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  1. Bring stock to a very gently simmer in a saucepan.
  2. In another large saucepan, heat the butter and oil over a gentle heat until the butter has melted. Add in the onion and garlic and cook gently for about 10 mins until softened but not coloured.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the peas in boiling water 2-3 mins until just cooked. Drain, reserving a few tablespoons of the cooking water. Blitz half the cooked peas in blender with the reserved cooking water to make a purée. Set aside.
  4. When the onion is soft, add the rice and stir for about 1 min until glossy with a coating of butter.
  5. Increase the heat and add the wine, stirring until the wine has evaporated.
  6. Reduce the heat and add a ladelful of the hot stock. Stir until the stock is absorbed, then add another ladelful. Keep repeating, stirring constantly and only adding more stock once the previous ladelful is absorbed. After about 10 minutes, add the chicken. Continue adding stock and stirring until the rice is just tender (about 20 mins in total.
  7. Stir through the pea purée, the other half of the peas, the cheese, lemon zest, and lemon juice to taste. Allow to heat through for a minute or so.
  8. Remove from heat, cover and leave to stand for three minutes before serving.

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