Mini-me meal…cheat’s risotto

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Time for a couple of Mini-me meal posts. I’ve got so many successes racked up now I just have to find the time to share! This is a quick, sort-of-risotto recipe which removes the usual level of effort and vigilance required to create the traditional dish.

This is the first of many ideas my partner-in-food-crime, Ruth, has passed in my direction. What I usually lack in the ‘food for The Girl’ department is ideas and inspiration. Sadly, there comes a day in every week where I feel I can’t dish up yet another incarnation of an omelette. So, Ruth has been great with creative ideas to please the little ones (or at least give it a good nudge)…this is the first of a few I will share in the next little while.

You can make the sofrito (flavour base) from whatever vegetables you have to hand. On this occasion I used onion, carrot, garlic and celery. You could also use grated courgette, leek, fennel, broccoli stalks…anything you can chop up finely to add flavour and nutrients. It’s best to finely chop these when it comes to feeding the young ‘uns or they are prone to picking out what they can identify as vegetable matter. I usually haven’t got the energy to get my chop-on at this time of the day so I prefer to bung all the sofrito vegetables in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped.

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The bacon is optional but you only need a tiny amount to impart a delicious flavour. If you add it to the pan along with the liquid (ie: without browning it) the bacon will pretty much melt away during cooking, leaving no chewy bits to be spat back out at you.

Thea wolfed this down the first time I made it. The second time I got over-confident, thinking I’d found my fail-proof meal and added some toasted pinenuts. It was a big mistake as she loves pinenuts so much she picked through the rice, eating them one by one and outright rejected the risotto. Go figure. Omelette for dinner again.

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CHEAT’S RISOTTO (serves two little people)

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup medium grain rice
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 carrot – finely chopped
1/2 celery stick – finely chopped
1/2 onion – finely chopped
1 small garlic clove – crushed to a paste with a pinch of sea salt
Handful grated parmesan
1/4 tsp good-quality powdered stock (I use Vegeta)
1 rasher streaky bacon – roughly chopped
Nob of butter
Freshly ground black pepper

METHOD
1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium-low heat and gently fry the carrot, celery, onion and garlic until translucent.

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2. While the sofrito is cooking, rinse the rice in cold water, rubbing the grains between your fingertips, drain and repeat two more times until the water runs clear. Drain and set aside.

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3. Add the rice to the pan, stir to coat in the sofrito mix then add the powdered stock, bacon along with 1 and 1/4 cup water. Stir well and increase the heat to medium-high. As soon as the liquid starts to boil, reduce the element to its lowest setting, put the lid on and cook for 15 mins without lifting the lid off (make sure you use a saucepan with a lid which seals in the steam).

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4. Remove from the heat, leaving the lid on and allow the risotto to sit for a further five minutes.
5. Add the parmesan, a decent nob of butter and season with a little freshly ground black pepper. The mix should be nice and loose so if it’s still a bit dry add a tablespoon or so of water until you achieve the right consistency.

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