On a jaunt around the local supermarket at the weekend, I discovered that Heston Blumenthal had launched a range of stocks for Waitrose. Heston is, by far and away, our favourite 'celebrity' chef. Sure he doesn't cook anything that you can replicate at home without setting up your own chemistry lab but I love the way that he thinks about food and the sense of fun that he brings to cooking. His inventive approach has been much lauded but it's more than that for me; beyond everything he seems to actually care about how things taste. We have booked to go to his new restaurant, Dinner by Heston, in May and are planning a visit to his three Michelin star The Fat Duck later this year.
But to get back to the good stuff, I was searching for some inspiration for that night's supper when I noticed Heston's chicken stock sitting quietly on the shelf. I was immediately enthralled by the dark, shiny liquid. Most ready-to-buy stock and even home-made stock looks fairly insipid, like dirty dish-water or something even less pleasant.
Into my shopping basket it went (along with some other ridiculous purchases that will no doubt make an appearance in this blog soon) with the idea of making a simple risotto that evening.
I chopped up an onion and a couple of carrots and fried them in some olive oil until soft. After adding some arborio rice (about 200g because I have no idea of portion control) and cooking for a couple of minutes, in went a good slug of white wine.
It looked a bit like this. Or exactly like this more to the point.
Then it was time to open the stock. The smell was a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Like I'd spend all afternoon roasting a chicken in my kitchen rather than watching a 'Murder, She Wrote' marathon.
Being a fairly imprecise cook, I added the whole lot and brought it to the boil. Then I threw in some cooked chicken, put the lid on and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. There was a little too much liquid so I took the lid off for the last five minutes or so to achieve the perfect consistency. I know you're supposed to keep stirring risotto but, in reality, I only ever both to give it a quick workaround with the spoon every time I happen to wander into the kitchen and it turns out fine.
Actually, the finished product was more than fine. Look at the colour! Look at it shine and glisten in anticipation! Imagine the smell! All it needs is a sprig of parsley on top and you have perfection in a bowl.
Disclaimer: I do not work for Waitrose, I am not being paid by Waitrose, I just like their stock. A lot.