I think the more time I spend cooking, the less ingredients I use in my food. Simplicity is key. Yes there are many delicious elaborate dishes, meals combining complex flavours etc etc. But there is nothing quite like real butter and fresh chives over little Jersey Royal potatoes, or sliced tomatoes and mozzarella with torn basil leaves. Just a slice of apple with a piece of cheese can be something special and strawberries and cream is certainly a treat.
This dish isn’t quite that simple, you have to make your risotto base with some added pancetta. But then to finish just add the bright green podded broad beans, some parmesan and a little fresh mint and voilà, you have a midweek meal or a dinner to serve to friends on a weekend. As long as your ingredients are fresh (even better, picked out of you garden) and carefully presented and there is no reason why this should be any less special than a herb crusted rack of lamb with a poncy jus (although I don’t mind a nice poncy jus every now and then).
I love the taste and texture of broad beans, but for me they must have their outer jackets taken off, revealing the vibrant beautiful green jewel beneath. If you really can’t be bothered to pod broad beans and then remove the tough jackets you could use frozen peas instead.
Half a white onion, finely chopped
Two cloves of garlic, finely chopped
6/8 slices of pancetta in cubes (or buy a little pack of pancetta cubes)
200g arborio rice (or other risotto rice)
1 litre of chicken stock, hot (if using a stock cube use only use one cube, otherwise the dish will be too salty)
150g broad beans (podded weight) fresh or frozen
Handful of grated parmesan cheese
A few mint leave, lightly chopped
*To take you broad beans out of their little tough jacket as I like to, plunge into a pan of boiling water, allow to return to the boil and simmer for 30 seconds more. Then refresh in cold water. You should then be able to pop the jackets off easily.
1. Fry the pancetta pieces until starting the crisp up. Add the onion and garlic and fry slowly in some oil and butter until soft. Add the rice, stir round the pan, then gradually add the hot stock, stirring all the time to encourage the starch to break down and go creamy.
2. When you have used nearly all the stock add your broad beans. Taste the risotto to check for seasoning and to see if the rice is cooked. If not add some more liquid and keep stirring.
3. At the last minutes add parmesan cheese, lots of freshly ground pepper and the mint. Be careful not to add all the mint at once, too much and it will taste of toothpaste, too little and you won’t notice it. Serve in deep bowls.