Saturday, 9 February 2013

Country living

I have had a bit of a run in recently with one of the local gamekeepers.  They shoot ridiculously close to the garden and it is all a bit cavalier in my opinion.  This has happened before between our household and the shoot which leases the woods around our property.  We don't have a problem with the fact the shoot does what it does - well, we do really because we don't enjoy the knowledge that the pheasants and deer we see so often are being rounded up by the beaters and then shot.  It seems to be a callous way to spend a day but I do confess to enjoying a pot roast of pheasant, so I suppose I can't have it both ways.  At least the pheasants grow up in happy surroundings.  

I struggle more with the shooting of the deer.  They are such beautiful and graceful creatures. However, I know that they do a lot of damage to the crops and have to kept under some kind of control, so we just have to put up with it.  We chose to live in the countryside after all. Unfortunately the deer don't help themselves by having ridiculously white bums which bob up and down as they run across the fields and into the relative refuge of the woods.  Bad career move.  If they just sat down instead of taking fright you wouldn't see them at all!  I don't like their meat very much.  I think it's too rich and not to my taste.  We haven't been offered any venison which is just as well!

Well, having got that off my chest, the subject of pheasant reminded me that I never got round to posting the chestnut risotto recipe I mentioned once before.  I made some arancini using up the leftover chestnut risotto Mr Gaucho (Risotto King) prepared a few days ago and as we had been given some pheasant by the owner of said local shoot, I thought the chestnuts and pheasant might marry together rather well.  So here are the two recipes, both of which are very good.  I should probably apologise to any Italians who might read this because these are not traditional arancini, but tasty nevertheless, and easy to make.

Chestnut Risotto
serves 4

2 tbspn olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
350 g risotto rice
200 ml white wine
about 850 ml hot vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
250 g cooked chestnuts, crumbled but kept in good size pieces
150 g cold, diced butter (we think this is a fairly crazy amount of butter so we use less than this and it's fine)
50 g grated parmesan plus extra for serving
salt and freshly ground pepper
flat leaf parsley, chopped

Heat the oil in a large pan.  Add the onion and cook over a medium heat, stirring, until soft and translucent.
Stir in the rice and cook for another minute.
Turn up the heat and add the wine and cook off to evaporate the alcohol.  Reduce a little.
Start adding the hot stock, a ladle at a time, stirring the rice all the time.  Let the rice absorb the stock before adding another spoonful.
A few minutes before you think the rice is cooked (after about 18 - 20 mins) add the chestnuts and cook for 4 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the cubed butter, then the parmesan.
Season generously.
Garnish with the freshly chopped parsley.

Set oven to 180c
Line baking sheet with parchment paper, lightly oiled

leftover risotto
plain flour
beaten egg
pack of sage & onion stuffing mix or breadcrumbs with some dried herbs mixed in

Form the leftover risotto in balls (about half cup measurement)
Roll in flour.
Dip in beaten egg.
Roll in breadcrumb mix and place on the baking sheets.
If you have a spray can of olive oil, give the aracini a spray.
Bake for 20 minutes (or a bit more if need be) to crisp and brown slightly.

I think arancini are good served with a sauce of some sort.  A red wine and onion sauce would be nice, or any other veggie mix, plus a salad.  When we had them the other day they were good alongside the roasted pheasant, instead of potatoes.  Another time we had them with stuffed peppers.  Yum!


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