Sunday, 9 October 2011

Cheddar Cheese Risotto with Roasted Vine Tomatoes

You want comfort food? I'll give you comfort food. This is the risotto version of a macaroni cheese. Sharp Cheddar cheese, with oozy, garlicky risotto rice and plump little burnished roasted vine tomatoes on top, their roasting juices drizzled over. The sharpness of the balsamic-speckled tomato juices cuts the rich, cheesy risotto really well. 

I made this one night as an emergency dinner when I didn't have much in the cupboards, but it was fantastic. We'll be making it - as a dinner in its own right - again soon...





Cheddar Cheese Risotto with Roasted Vine Tomatoes
Serves 4-5, generously
Ingredients
  • About 16 small vine tomatoes (cherry tomatoes are excellent)
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • 400g Arborio risotto rice 
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 1 litre of chicken stock (use vegetable stock if you want to)
  • 3 chunky garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 30g butter
  • 50g mature Cheddar (plus more to serve, sprinkled on top)
Method
  1. First, get your tomatoes on to roast. Preheat your oven to 200C. Arrange the tomatoes (still hanging on their vines) in an ovenproof roasting dish. Sprinkle over some sea salt flakes, a good glug of olive oil (Extra-virgin if you have it) and a splash (about a tablespoon or two) of balsamic vinegar. Put them in the oven while you get on with the risotto.
  2. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and gently cook the garlic, until softened but not coloured. Tip in the risotto rice and stir to coat the grains in the garlicky oil. Cook for about a minute. Throw in the bay leaf.
  3. Slosh in the wine, and keep gently stirring the rice until all the liquid has been absorbed. This will only take a few minutes. Gradually add the stock, stirring between additions, only adding more when the existing liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Keep going until the rice has a soft, gooey consistency and is no longer chalky in texture when bitten. You might not need all of the stock; you might need more - see how you go.
  4. When the rice is the way you like it, remove the risotto from the heat.
  5. Take your tomatoes out of the oven, which should be sizzling and burnished.
  6. Still away from the heat, stir the butter into the risotto and the Cheddar cheese until mixed. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if you think it needs it.
  7. Spoon the risotto into dishes, and arrange four roasted tomatoes on the top of each one, trickling over the amber-coloured juices from the roasting dish as you go.
  8. Serve immediately, with extra Cheddar for grating on top, if you like.

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