We are in the midst of that horror that is house buying. The house selling seems to be a dream but the purchase is causing unknown stress and as such I am in need of great comfort. What could be more reassuring and bolstering than risotto. Cosy, creamy and requiring very little effort to eat, sofa food if ever there was. As it oozes gently across your plate you just know it is going to make you feel better. That, and the bar of chocolate to follow….
For this I have chosen smoked haddock because I find it an old fashioned, nostalgic ingredient which in itself brings me comfort. Purists may recoil at the hint of yellow coming from this fish and by all means use undyed if you prefer. The haddock I purchased did, clearly, have a belt of sunshine yellow about it but as it was good quality I wasn’t going to let it bother me. Indeed I rather like the jolly jauntiness of yellow and it certainly makes this uplifting to look at along with its green chive freckles.
Parmesan I know is not traditional with fish risottos but I do think cheese goes rather well with smoked fish so personally, I am all for a good grating but I leave that up to you. One final suggestion I make is a poached egg. The golden yolk breaking over the risotto is a fabulous addition and would make this go further should you wish to feed more souls in need of comfort, or otherwise.
Smoked Haddock Risotto with Chives
I am not keen on fish stock unless I have just made it so tend to use chicken or vegetable, either works fine. That I can use stock cubes if necessary makes this a superb store cupboard supper as smoked haddock is happily stored in the freezer and the chives can be growing in a pot or your garden. Onions, lemons and arborio rice I always have in the larder. Finally, you will have to stand and stir this for around 20 minutes but the beauty of being trapped stove side is that you are unable to help anyone find their homework, walk the dog, hang the washing out……
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
200g arborio rice
1 wineglass dry white wine
500/600ml stock (see introduction)
Juice of half a lemon
Chives, about 10g, finely chopped
250g smoked haddock, cut into pieces
Salt and pepper
Make your stock if using cubes or heat it up if is already liquid, either way keep it hot by or on the hob. Melt the butter and oil in a large pan and cook the onion for 5 to 10 minutes until soft but not coloured and then add the rice. Give it a good stir to ensure all the grains are well coated. Add the wine and stir until it has been absorbed by the rice. Then add the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring continuously until each addition is absorbed. Towards the end of this process you should taste a grain of rice as different brands vary but I suspect it will take around 20 minutes. When it is nearly done add the fish and your final slosh of stock and continue stirring. Finally add the lemon juice and taste for salt at this point as you may not need much depending on the saltiness of your fish but add lots of pepper and most of the chives. Stir and leave it to stand for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with the last of the chives and serve. Enough for 2.