Risotto is one of my favourite things to cook - it involves a little bit of work, but not too much, and I enjoy watching the rice become more and more irresistible as it progresses. Plus, it doesn't hurt that it's nearly impossible to make a bad risotto. This particular dish was no exception - how can you possibly go wrong with caramelised carrots and onions, creamy arborio rice and little pockets of melty mozzarella?
(you can't, by the way)
Making a risotto makes me feel like the best chef in the world. It's got a reputation for being labour-intensive and time-consuming, but really I don't find it takes any longer than making anything else. There's not an enormous amount of skill involved, but you can create something wonderful - so it's perfect if you want to impress your guests and trick them into thinking you're a better cook than you are. Unfortunately, I'm usually only cooking for me and my boyfriend, and he's probably seen as many of my cooking failures as successes, so that doesn't work so well for me.
I appear to be on a bit of a caramelising kick lately, with the ricotta and caramelised onion frittata last week and now this. I'm not complaining though, since caramelising vegetables allows all their flavours to really shine. I usually add a touch of sugar to help the process along, but if you're not quite as lazy as I am, you can just cook your veg over a really low heat for a really long time.
One of the best things about this risotto was the fact that I didn't add the mozzarella until about a minute before serving - so while it was cooked just enough to get all melty, it wasn't completely distributed through the risotto. Instead, there were little pockets of cheesy goodness throughout. Irresistible.
1tbsp olive oil
½ onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium carrots, grated
1 ½tsp caster sugar
200g arborio rice
~1l vegetable stock
50g cheddar cheese, grated
3tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
100g fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan, risotto pan or wok, and add the onion, garlic and grated carrot, along with the sugar and seasoning (remember you'l be adding stock later so don't add too much salt unless you're using low sodium stock). Cook over a medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until soft and beginning to caramelise.
Add the rice, and stir to coat. After a minute or so, add a little of the stock (I usually add around 150ml at a time), and mix well. Once the stock has been absorbed by the rice, add a little more, and continue to stir. Repeat this process until the rice is al dente, and the mixture is as wet as you would like it, around 30 minutes (I ended up using just under a litre - if you run out of stock, just add hot water).
Add the grated cheddar and chopped coriander, and mix well until the cheddar has melted. Add the cubes of mozzarella, and stir gently for a minute or two until the mozzarella is melty, but not yet fully distributed through the risotto - you want there to be little pockets of cheese. Serve immediately.