Day 20 – Pound shop risotto

 My Italian Grandfather would be turning in his grave…

Normally, arborio or carnaroli rice would be used to make risotto. This is because both rices are high in starch which is gradually released as you slowly cook the rice giving it a nice creamy texture.

Well I tried it for this blog and can report that ordinary rice can make a pretty ok risotto. I treated the rice (I used American long grain rice) as I would an Italian rice, that is to say I first softened some onions in unsalted butter then added the rice and stir-fried it for a couple of minutes. Then, chicken stock at the ready, I ladled in one spoonful of stock at a time, letting each be absorbed by the rice before adding another. You do repeat this until all the stock is used which normally would take about 20-30 minutes but with the non-risotto rice I used it seemed to use much much more stock and take a lot longer for the rice to lose its crunchiness. Some point halfway through cooking I would add my flavour – for this some tinned asparagus, the nearest I could get to a vegetable.

The result is not quite risotto but not a bad imitation at all. Sorry Nonno.

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Day 17 – Waiter, there’s some dry shrimp in my paella

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And now all the way from sunny Spain, via King’s Lynn, comes paella in a box! That’s right folks everything for that authentic Spanish flavour in one handy box: dehydrated vegetables, dried shrimp and everyones favourite Monosodium Glutamate. Hear the castanets, watch the swirling skirts of the flamenco dancers as you lift a forkful of that tasty rice to your mouth. Oh can it get any better than this? No, no it can’t, for you dear friends are eating a Vesta paella meal for one.