about 2.5 liters of young nettle tops loosely packed, washed
2.5 liters of home made vegetable or chicken stock
50 grams butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
50 grams home cured smoked bacon, finely chopped
20 grams dried tomatoes
400 grams risotto rice
125ml dry white wine
salt & pepper
50 grams butter, cut into cubes and chilled
100 grams finely grated hard cheese such as parmesan or pecorino
a few nettle leaves for garnish, deep fried until crisp
Blanch the nettle tops in plenty of salted boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute. This will help soften them and preserve their glorious green colour.
Drain and refresh the nettles in cold water. Squeeze out excess water and place in a blender and puree.
Melt the first 50 grams of butter in a sauté pan and gently fry the bacon until the fat renders and it's slightly coloured.
Add the onions and garlic and cook gently until softened but not coloured (about 5 minutes). If you need to, add a little more butter or olive oil.
Add the rice and stir around so that it gets coated with the flavoured butter and heats through.
Add the wine, stir and allow to evaporate completely.
Add the warm stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring the mixture constantly over a medium heat. When the liquid is nearly all incorporated, add the next ladleful.
Do this for about 10 minutes, then bring your heat up and add your nettle puree and tomatoes. Mix in well and turn the heat back to medium. The nettle will make things moister so you may not need to add any more liquid from here. Keep stirring for 5 minutes or so until the rice is soft outside and 'al dente' in the middle. You want the risotto moist (not dry but not soupy) at this stage.
Turn off the heat and cover the pan with a lid. Allow to rest for up to 5 minutes.
Add your chilled butter cubes and hard cheese and beat it into the risotto. Check taste and season appropriately.
Serve garnished with the deep fried nettle leaves.
bacon recipe courtesy of: Carl Legge, Permaculture, The Sustainability Centre, Droxford Road, East Meon, Hampshire GU32 1HR, March 17, 2011