Heston Blumenthal is one of my absolute favourite chefs, but he gets a lot of flack for using specialist tools (dry ice or a sous vide machine) or for the amount of time his recipes take. I don’t have specialist tools, but as for the time, one should think of the expression ‘labour of love’. Yes, some of his recipes take time, but that time is love – the same love that makes grandma’s cookies so special. So, while I don’t always have time to cook a Heston recipe, on the rare weekend I have the time, I will put in the eight hours/several days because it always tastes incredible.
That being said, I got ‘Heston at Home’ for Christmas and I chose to dive into the beetroot risotto because it doesn’t take that much extra time (and because my husband loves beetroot!)
As Heston recommended serving it with an oily fish, I did mine with a simply fried cod: just oil a pan, salt the fish and fry for 3 minutes on each side.
It took a bit more time than I realised (as I will explain below) but oh my god IT IS AMAZING!!! It won extra husband points because my better half had me put the extra risotto aside for his lunch.
Let’s look at the results first:
What non-chefs should know
There are two things in this recipe that you need to make ahead of time and they are time consuming:
- Chicken Stock
- As you know I made chicken stock this weekend in preparation of this recipe, but I often have fresh made stock. To be honest, though, you can get away with store-bought stock.
- Acidulated butter
- In the cookbook Heston tells us that this is the risotto secret, and oh my, he was right. I was really skeptical, and so I tasted the risotto before I added the butter and immediately after and …well risotto magic happened. The butter is the key to something and I wish I understood it, but wow. I will use this in every risotto I make from now to eternity.
- The book doesn’t tell you this, but if you serve it as an accompaniment to fish, it serves 4
- If you have to make the acidulated butter, do it while the beetroot juice reduces. I did that and the recipe took me 56 minutes to make
- The Madera reduces a lot faster than you would think… I looked away for too long. Don’t do what I did.
The easy version
You can make it with normal butter and store-bought stock, but risotto always takes time. If you have that little extra patience though – please make the acidulated butter. It is like having risotto fairy dust.
How I served it:
With simple, fried cod:
Coat a pan with olive oil and salt the fish.
Place the fish skin-side down in the pan and fry for 3 minutes
turn over and fry the top for a further 3 minutes.