Monday, October 19, 2015

Beetroot risotto

One of my most popular dishes is beetroot risotto. It's both the recipe that I get asked for most often, and the recipe that people go out of their way to tell me that they enjoyed making. Here's the (quite simple!) recipe so that you can enjoy it too!

This recipe serves two, and is especially good with some slices of pan-roasted duck breast on top. Yum.


  • 1 beetroot
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 small onion
  • Half a celery stick
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 100 g risotto rice
  • 30 g Parmesan cheese
  • Butter
  • Fresh parsley
  • Salt & pepper


First, peel the beetroot and carrot, and cut them into 1 cubes. Put them in a saucepan with a pinch of salt and enough water to cover them, bring them to the boil, and let them simmer for about 20 minutes.

While they're cooking, finely chop the onion, garlic and celery. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, and saute the chopped vegetables gently in the olive oil until they're soft and translucent. Also, grate the Parmesan, chop the parsley, and boil a full kettle.

Once the beetroot and carrot are cooked, strain off the liquid into a jug and set the vegetables to one side.

Turn up the heat in the frying pan, and gently fry the rice with the onion, garlic and celery for 1–2 minutes. Then add a little of the stock from cooking the beetroot and carrot (that you saved earlier in a jug), and stir the rice until almost all the liquid has been absorbed. Repeat until you run out of liquid. Add the root vegetables into the pan, and continue to gradually add hot water (from the kettle) while gently stirring until the rice is cooked.

Take the risotto of the heat, and stir in the Parmesan, the parsley, and a knob of butter. Let it rest for a minute, and serve in bowles with some freshly-ground black pepper on top!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Pan-roast venison haunch with pumpkin risotto

The rather awesome K. and I have been going out for three years! We made a special dinner to celebrate.

This recipe, unsurprisingly, serves two. Best accompanied by a nice Pinot Noir!


For the venison:

  • 12 oz (350 g) venison haunch, in one piece
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 30 g butter
  • 25 ml gin
  • 1 tsp plain flour
  • 150 ml red wine
  • 300 ml lamb stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small sprig rosemary
  • 5 juniper berries
  • Salt & pepper

For the risotto:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 celery stick
  • 300 g pumpkin
  • Some kale (a generous handful)
  • 100 g risotto rice
  • 150 ml white wine
  • 500 ml vegetable stock
  • 30 g Parmesan cheese
  • Butter
  • Salt & pepper

To serve:

  • Parsley leaves
  • Parmesan shavings

You will need a digital kitchen thermometer.


I'm listing the two methods separately, but you'll need to do them simultaneously. Make sure you have all the equipment and ingredients ready before you start!

For the venison:

  1. At least an hour in advance, remove the venison from the fridge, remove all packaging, and pat dry with a clean paper towel. Place it on a clean chopping board and leave to dry in the air.
  2. Put a roasting tin in the oven and preheat to 120 °C fan. Heat the sunflower oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a high heat.
  3. Season the venison with salt and pepper. Fry the venison for 1–2 minutes on each side until sealed and browned. Add the butter to the the pan and baste continuously for 3 minutes, turning occasionally, then transfer it to the preheated roasting tin in the oven.
  4. While the venison is in the oven, make sure to check it periodically with the thermometer — the aim is to reach 63 °C in the centre of the meat [1], but don't let it get any hotter than that, or it'll dry out! It'll need about 15–20 minutes in the oven.
  5. Deglaze the frying pan with the gin, then add the flour and mix to a paste. Add the red wine and herbs, and simmer over a high heat until reduced by half.
  6. Remove the rosemary (because otherwise it can overpower the other flavours), and add the lamb stock. Continue reducing until a sauce-like consistency is achieved. Sieve the gravy and set aside (but keep it warm!)
  7. Once the venison reaches the target temperature, remove it from the oven and cover it in foil to rest. Make sure to rest it for at least 5 minutes.

For the risotto:

  1. Finely chop the onion and celery, and crush the garlic. Dice the pumpkin into 1 cm cubes, and finely shred the kale. Grate the Parmesan.
  2. Heat the olive oil over a medium heat in a large, non-stick pan, and add the onion and celery. Saute the vegetables gently for about 5 minutes until they are soft but not browning.
  3. Add the garlic and rice, and continue to cook for 2–3 minutes.
  4. Turn the heat up to high, and add the white wine and some salt. Continue to cook, while stirring regularly and adding stock when the risotto starts to dry out.
  5. When the rice is starting to soften, add the pumpkin and kale. Continue to cook the risotto, adding liquid when needed, until the rice is soft but not mushy.
  6. Stir in the Parmesan and a generous knob of butter, and leave the risotto to rest for at least a minute.

To serve, carve the venison into thick, even rounds. Arrange the risotto and venison on pre-heated plates. Spoon a little of the gravy onto the venison, and top the risotto with freshly-ground black pepper, parsley leaves and Parmesan shavings.

[1] Getting the centre of the venison to 63 °C is recommended if you want to make sure that any bacteria or other nasties are fully killed off, and will result in having venison that's "done" — with a centre that's slightly pink but still deliciously tender. If you'd like medium-rare, aim for 57 °C.