Gorgonzola & pear risotto
- Servings: 4-6 as a main
- 3 ripe commis pears, trimmed, peeled and cored
- 4 tbsp honey, for drizzling
- 1 litre (approx) chicken stock, preferably free-range or organic
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 40g unsalted butter, plus extra knob for frying
- 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
- 400g Arborio or other risotto rice
- 325ml dry Vermouth or a good dry white wine
- 150g Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled,
- 50g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Small bunch of fresh thyme tips and extra-virgin olive oil, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Cut the pears in half lengthways and cut each half lengthways into 3 or 4 slices. Place onto a baking tray, drizzle with honey and place into the oven for 15 minutes until softened and coloured around the edges. Remove and set aside to cool.
- In a saucepan, heat the chicken stock. In a separate pan, heat the olive oil and knob of butter, add the onions, garlic and celery, and fry very slowly for about 15 minutes or until soft – don’t let the veg colour. When veg are soft, add your rice and turn up the heat. Lightly fry the rice, stirring constantly so it doesn’t stick to the pan. After a minute, when it looks slightly translucent, add the alcohol, and keep stirring. Any harsh alcohol flavours will evaporate and leave the rice with a lovely subtle, slightly floral flavour.
- Once the Vermouth or wine has cooked into the rice, add a ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a simmer so that the rice doesn’t cook too quickly. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring all the while to release the creamy starch out of the rice. Allow each ladleful of stock to be absorbed before adding the next one. Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but still has a slight bite. This will take around 15 minutes. (If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, use some boiling water.) Check the seasoning carefully and adjust to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Stir in 100g Gorgonzola and the cooled roasted pear slices until the cheese melts and the pears are warmed through. Remove the pan from the heat, add the butter and Parmesan and stir well. Place a lid on the pan and let it rest for 2 minutes. (This is the most important part of making good risotto, as it helps it become really creamy and lets the flavours infuse.) Check seasoning and adjust to taste as required. Pick off a few fresh thyme tips and stir them into the risotto, then spoon onto plates or bowls, making sure that every plate gets a good amount of both sweet roasted pears and the beautiful, salty, melted gorgonzola. Garnish with an extra grating of parmesan, remaining gorgonzola, a drizzle of good extra-virgin olive oil and a few more thyme tips.