I had a moment of realisation last week while I was on holiday. I actually don't like cooking that much.
Well, that's not quite true. I like baking cakes and making anything that involves melting a bar of chocolate at some point. I have a slightly strange love of chopping (put not peeling) vegetables. The smell of garlic gently frying makes me swoon. But I sometimes find the thought of cooking a whole meal overwhelming.
The night before I made this risotto, I had cooked a fairly simple meal but one that involved a lot of last minute fuss. As I stood in our tiny airless kitchen, trying to swap pans between the hob and the oven so that everything was ready at the same time, I wondered why I was really bothering. I didn't want to eat the meal much anymore and it all seemed like so much effort.
The next day, my plans for a cookbook session and an elaborate lamb dish went out the window. What did I really want to eat?
The answer came to me in a heartbeat. A risotto. A little chopping, a little frying, a little stirring. That's all. Nothing complicated or fancy. Just tasty food.
(Also I apologise for the excessive use of bokeh in the photographs. I was determined to finish the book I was reading before I started cooking supper and as a result, we didn't eat until it was starting to get dark).
Leek and pancetta risotto (serves 2)
Pancetta/bacon of choice (I used lardons which I found in the supermarket)
2 whole leeks
1 clove garlic
200g risotto rice
1/2 cup white wine
700ml vegetable stock (might need less, might need to top it up)
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan to serve
1. First of all, cook the pancetta in a little olive oil until it starts to go crispy. Put aside until needed.
2. Chop the leeks and garlic. Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a large saucepan at a medium temperature and fry the vegetables until soft. Add the risotto rice and fry for a minute or two until all the rice is coated.
3. Add your white wine to the pan and allow it to burn off. Meanwhile heat your vegetable stock. When the wine has burned off, gradually add the vegetable stock to the pan and reduce the heat until the risotto is gently simmering. Keep adding stock and stirring until you've reached your desired risotto consistency. Just before it finishes cooking, add most of the pancetta, reserving some to sprinkle on top. Just before serving, stir through the parsley and a handful of parmesan and season to taste.
4. Sprinkle with the remaining pancetta and parmesan.