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Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Experiments with Gousto #6: Sweet Mixed Pepper & Chive Risotto

Of all the Gousto recipes I've tried so far (cooking myself, that is), this is probably my favourite so far. It turned out to be pretty much as quick and easy as the recipe suggests, but there were still a couple of things I didn't get quite right...

For starters, I've got into the habit of doing as much chopping as possible in advance, since I can never be sure I'll be able to keep to the timings if I have to chop on the fly. For this one, I also put the sweet tomato stock together in advance. This almost came a-cropper before I'd started, as my usual jug is far smaller than the 700ml required, so I had to resort to a crappy (but larger) plastic jug from my Ikea kitchenware set. I don't particularly like using it - especially for hot things - but there's really no rational reason for that... I just prefer working with glass/Pyrex jugs where available.

I got my girlfriend to explain how she would go about dicing onion, because my 'method' invaribly ends up making a lot of mess and leaving me with streaming eyes. In fact, in a previous recipe (not one I've documented, as far as I can remember) I diced an onion using our mandoline with the additional blades intended for slicing potatoes into French Fries. This time, I just used a standard kitchen knife, though I did have to sharpen it beforehand.

I was a little concerned by step 4 of this recipe, where smoked paprika, ground turmeric and chopped garlic are added in along with the dry arborio rice, as I don't feel especially confident about adding dry rice to anything where there's not much liquid available. One of these days, I'm sure I'll just end up with Rice Krispies... Not this day, though... thankfully...

Also, to be honest, it's only in the pan for about a minute before the stock is gradually added in, and this stage takes about 15-20 minutes for it to be absorbed by the rice, while the sliced peppers are being roasted in the oven. I think I started this stage a little too late - with only about 17 minutes remaining on the peppers' cooking time - so I ended up switching the oven off for the last few minutes of the risotto's cooking time.

The fact that almost everything for this recipe comes together in a single frying pan is a huge bonus. It means less to keep an eye on, and less to wash up at the end. I do have a few objections to the act of adding cheese to something that's already a hot, sticky mess in a frying pan, because I know from previous experience how troublesome that sort of combination will be to clean afterward. I also found the cheese supplied to be extremely crumbly, which made grating it an absolute chore, and I came dangerously close to grating my fingertips whenever a chunk broke off.

To be perfectly honest, I'm not certain whether or not any pepper was added for seasoning, along with the cheese and chives, but I'm pretty confident - having tasted the end results - that it would work well enough without. The final stage was a bit of a rush, as I had to dish out the risotto, add the remaining peppers, cheese and chives, drizzle on a bit of olive oil (also, I strongly suspect, surplus to requirement), and take some photos before announcing that dinner was ready... and I hadn't even brought the camera into the kitchen in advance this time...

This is the first of the new batch of Gousto recipes that arrived yesterday, so the rest have a hard act to follow now. The next few will be interesting as, after tonight's, I'll actually be cooking for myself for a couple of nights, as Courtney's out for the evenings, then away for the weekend... and I'm not sure keeping some of the ingredients till she's back - even keeping them in the fridge - will be viable. Chances are, I'll be cooking up the whole recipe as usual, but keeping a portion in the fridge (or the freezer) till she's back.

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