This is a meal I make when I need comfort food. It’s not an authentic Italian-style risotto as it uses Basmati rice and the aim is not to produce the creamy nursery food dish that is the mark of a real risotto. So if that bothers you, call it “Rice and Chicken Livers”. If you use frozen ready chopped garlic and blitz the onion in the blender, it can be produced within 40 minutes on a weeknight while listening to The Archers on BBC Radio 4. Adjust proportions of rice to chicken livers as you like; just keep the ratio of rice to stock 1 to 1.
400g fresh chicken livers (preferably free range), cleaned of any green-looking bits and chopped in half
1 large mug full of basmati rice (definitely not ordinary long grain rice)
1 fat garlic clove, chopped finely
1 onion, chopped finely
200 dry cure smoked bacon lardons
2 large mugs of hot chicken or duck stock
1 Bay leaf
Small handful each of finely chopped fresh sage and oregano/marjoram or whatever herbs you fancy (tarragon works well too)
Small handful of roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
Half glass of white wine or dry sherry
Freshly ground black pepper
1 glug of olive oil or a dollop of goose fat
A shake or two of Barbados hot pepper sauce or Tabasco.
In a suitably-sized heavy-based pan that that has a tight fitting lid: Gently fry the bacon, onion and garlic in the olive oil/goose fat until beginning to turn golden. Throw in the livers, give them a stir, then put in the rice. Stir again so the rice is coated with oil, then add the bay leaf, herbs, pepper sauce/Tabasco, wine/sherry and a generous grind of black pepper. Stir, then add the stock. Stir again and reduce to the lowest heat you can, cover tightly with the lid, then wait until the rice has softened and absorbed all the stock. If it threatens to dry out, add a little more stock or wine. It should take no more than 15 minutes. Check seasoning, adding salt if necessary and stir in the parsley. Serve in a bowl to your grateful spouse first then scoff the rest yourself.
I have bought a boudin noir from the Trealy Farm stall at the Monmouth Farmers’ market. Now what do I do with it?
Today, I thought I would share with you what I conjured up for dinner this evening. It will probably score points with the low carbs diet brigade as it is substantial and tasty but has no starchy ingredients like potato or pasta. The quantities of ingredients and cooking times are approximate – you’ll just have to adjust to suit your taste or what’s in season. This particular dish came about because I found some very cheap organic leeks and turkey on sale at the cheaper of the two Monmouth supermarkets:
2 Turkey Breasts – you could also use a similar quantity of chicken I suppose – cut into chunky strips
3 or 4 organic leeks – yes, yes, you can use non-organic, but go with the pretentious flow here – cut into half inch segments at a 45 degrees slant. (Leeks are the national vegetable of Wales.)
6 unusually large (I mean an inch across at the bulb) spring onions cut to 3 inches long and halved lengthways
4 or 5 tablespoons of flour
A liberal sprinkling of dried Herbes de Provence
6 er.. inches of chorizo sausage cut on the diagonal into slices
Dry (at least Amontillado) Sherry
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and a pepper mill to hand.
1. Use the Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper to season the flour. Coat the turkey strips in it. Mix the remaining flour with a splash of sherry and a little water to thicken the sauce later.
2. Heat about an inch of the olice oil in a wok and when very hot, fry the turkey in batches until they just begin to brown. Put the turkey aside.
3. With some fresh oil, but only a little this time, caramelise the spring onion halves in batches on both sides and put aside
4. Stir fry the leeks and chorizo. Once softened, lower the heat and add a generous splash of sherry.
5. Throw in the turkey and spring onion halves. Stir gently and cover to allow to braise for about three minutes.
6. Stir in the flour and sherry mixture and allow to thicken for a minute or two. Grind on some black pepper and salt if necessary.
7. Serve with a glass of Spanish red wine to hand.
Note: Be careful about the timing – the vegetables should be softly sweet and al dente, not slimy (overcooked) or crunchy (undercooked).
Instead of sherry, and interesting variation might be to use a dry white vermouth. I can report that this works very well with leeks, so it’s a safe bet that it would be a success.