I’ve just returned from a little timeout in the Spanish sunshine and my return to normality is taking longer than usual. My responsibilities for the last week have been limited to remembering to apply more sun cream (factor 50, every hour; I no burn) and shoveling crisps from a bag to my face while I simultaneously sip Sangria and look out at the pool. It was tough. But real life is tougher. And remembering everything I need at the supermarket is proving too much Yesterday, I went to Sainsbury’s not once, not twice but thrice and every time I forgot something. So dinner became a bit of a whatever-I-have-in-that’s-filling-cause-I’m-still-eating-holiday-portions. And that’s how this mish-mash of grains and pork came to be.
It started out a bit like a risotto, but then I didn’t have enough of any type of rice so I used arborio, basmati and red lentils. I wanted to add some lovely vine ripened tomatoes I had hanging about but it didn’t seem right with just chicken stock and cheese, so I piled in some punchy passata, which turned the whole thing a brilliant orange. Boyfriend wanted meat, so I defrosted some pork loin chops and used up the Polish sausage neither of us can remember buying. We were both pretty skeptical – it could have been horrific – but it was a success! And it’d be really easy to adapt, depending what you have floating around in your fridge. Next time, I might put a pinch of sugar in, just to bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes and I’d revert to risotto’s usual partner, Parmesan, rather than cheddar. Not bad for a first attempt, though. It’ll keep for a couple of days in the fridge too. Scroll past the picture for my recipe…
Scroll past the picture for my recipe…
Olive oil and butter
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely diced
80g aborio rice
60g basmati rice
60g red lentils
1 glass white wine
2 pints chicken stock
10 vine ripened / cherry tomatoes, each halved
100g cheddar, grated
2 pork loins, cut into chunks
25g kabanos (Polish sausage) or chorizo, diced
Salt and pepper
1 tsp paprika
Add a good lug of olive oil and about a tablespoon of butter to a hot pan. Once the butter is almost melted, add the onion with a pinch of salt and pepper. Let it cook on a medium heat, while you stir it, stopping it from browning. You want it to be lightly yellowed and soft. After 10 minutes, add the paprika, then add the garlic and cook for another 5.
Next add the aborio rice. It should pop and stick to the pan – keep stirring to ensure it doesn’t do too much of the latter – and then after a few minutes, it’ll become a little translucent. Pour in half of the wine, stir and let the rice absorb that before plonking in the rest of the wine with half of the cheese. Now’s a great chance to have a glass for yourself!
Add the basmati rice and lentils, stir well and then pour in about half a pint of stock. Keep stirring and once that has been absorbed, pour in another half a pint as well as the passata. Keep stirring and pouring in the stock until it has all been used up. Add the rest of the cheese and stir.
Now add the pork and the kabanos and half of the tomatoes. Let that simmer on a low heat for about half an hour, with the lid off, remembering to check on it to ensure it’s not sticking.
Try some of the rice – it should be soft now. If it’s still a bit crunchy, add a little more water, turn up the heat a smidge and wait it out.
When ready, serve with the rest of the cool, fresh tomatoes, a sprinkle of cheddar, cracked black pepper and a drizzle of chilli oil. You can get some great chilli oils in the shops or at your local market but it’s easy enough (and really cheap) to make your own. Get my chilli oil recipe here.