SPRING PEA & HAM RISOTTO

One of my favourite seasons has always been spring; I am continually inspired by the vibrant, fresh ingredients available at this time of year. I love to celebrate the season by preparing simple, yet refined dishes showcasing spring vegetables such as asparagus, wild garlic and sweet garden peas. This is a delicious spring risotto dish that really shows off the natural flavour and sweetness of the new season’s spring peas. If fresh peas are not available, frozen garden peas will work just as well, and will allow you to create this risotto anytime of the year.

People often consider cooking risotto to be a laborious process that requires constant attention. My recipe below lets you in on a restaurant secret for quick, pre-prepared risotto ideal for a time-saving midweek family meal or for larger social occasions.  The key is to cook the risotto rice in the stock until slightly underdone and cool it rapidly to prevent that rice from overcooking, allowing you to easily finish cooking it later, just before serving. This is a technique that I use at home when I know that I’ve got a busy week coming up and want a no-prep, 10-minute meal ready to go in the fridge.

This recipe is a firm favourite of the Midsummer House team and we’ve had pea and ham risotto for staff lunch every Wednesday since the week we opened – it’s become part of the furniture.

Pea & Ham Risotto

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 20g of butter
  • 200ml white wine
  • 300g risotto rice
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 60g Birds Eye garden peas                                                                                       
  • 100g cooked ham hock, cut into cubes, just larger than the peas
  • 50ml double cream
  • 20g Parmesan, grated
  • salt and lemon juice, to taste
  • parsley, finely chopped

Method:

Sweat the onion in the butter until translucent. Add the white wine and reduce. Put the risotto rice and chicken stock into the pan and bring everything to the boil. Cook for seven minutes on a high heat and then drain risotto base in a sieve, ensuring you keep the liquid. Empty the rice from the sieve into a wide based tray or dish and blast chill the cooked rice for later. When you are ready to serve, gently heat equal quantities of rice and cooking liquid together. Reduce the liquid by half, gently fold the peas and ham through, then add the cream, Parmesan and chopped parsley, salt and lemon juice to finish.

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