I love spicy food. And when I say spicy, I don’t just mean chilli heat that burns your tongue off. I mean food that is really rich in spices, with flavours that have tantalising layers and aromatic depths.
So, admittedly, it’s quite tragic that I fell in love with Japan where flavours are clean, simple and precise – with an emphasis on minimalism to bring out the essence of the original ingredient.
There comes a point where a Japanese breakfast doesn’t quite cut it. Grabbing a rice ball from the convenience store. Or raw egg and fermented soy beans on rice. Or that dubious pastry from a dubiously named ‘German’ bakery stocked with even more dubious ‘French items’, such as Croque Monsieurs.
Or maybe, it’s just the point where you want sausages. Proper, meaty sausages. Or you’re craving bacon so badly that you’d happily wear its scent as perfume.
Despite the rarity of these items, a lack of affordable quality bread, and even more ridiculously priced butter, my friend Luke and I set out to make the ultimate brunch. Watch and salivate.
I was perusing the “fresh herbs” section of my local supermarket when I spotted a packet of lemon thyme. On closer examination, it recommended that I throw it into a risotto. So I did.
This risotto is simple, quick, delicious and cheap. Enjoy!
Preparation time: 5 mins Cooking time: 25 – 30 mins
One chicken breast, chopped
5 – 6 chestnut mushrooms, sliced (I love chestnut mushrooms for their warm, nutty flavour, but you can adapt)
One small leek, finely sliced
One clove of garlic, crushed
Parmesan shavings, ~30g
Risotto rice, 200g
Chicken stock, 500l (vegetable will do)
100ml white wine (optional)
1tbsp Lemon thyme, finally chopped
In a large pan, fry the chicken on a medium heat until it starts to seal.
Add the leek and fry until it begins to soften.
Add the garlic and the mushrooms and fry until they also begin to soften.
Add the rice and fry for ~2 minutes.
If you are using wine, add this now and stir until the rice has absorbed it.
Add ~1/3 stock and simmer, stirring occasionally.
Once most of the stock has been absorbed, throw in the lemon thyme.
Add a bit more stock, and stir until it is absorbed. Repeat until all the stock has been absorbed and/or the risotto is the right consistency (ie. not chewy, but not soggy).
Throw in most of the Parmesan shavings, reserving a few for garnishing, and stir until melted in.
Season to taste.
Sprinkle the remaining Parmsean shavings on top and serve!
This makes a perfect quick lunch or dinner, especially as it’s easily re-heated the next day. I don’t drink wine so I can never justify buying a bottle just for cooking, but the risotto is still very tasty without it.
Tips: don’t overdo the Parmesan or the lemon thyme. Taste throughout the cooking process to see if you have the flavour balance to your liking.