Over the last few years, food fashion has shifted away from the quirky and sometimes crazy molecular gastronomy of the last decades to a focus on fresh, local produce cooked at its best. I am not about to don my wellies and skip off down a country path in search of dandelion leaves, although leaving a juicy blackberry on a bush is pretty much sacrilege. Really, though, this new fashion has had very little impact on the way I cook except that I have started to pay more attention to the ingredients of the season.
In part, this focus on seasonality is due to the fact that my parents have a vegetable garden, which provides me with a plentiful source of free food. However, if you grow it yourself, you can’t get asparagus in December. This puts me in a bit of a bind because the veg selection gets a little bit more limited at this time of year; there are only so many ways you can cook a carrot!
Beetroot is one thing that comes into its own in winter though and its earthy flavour is a really comforting addition to many dishes. This dish is a really simple mid-week supper that makes great use of seasonal produce. It’s warming and comforting without being too heavy, meaning it is a great antidote to the plethora of stews and pies and puddings that will have you heaving your gut off the floor come January.
Mackerel and Beetroot Risotto (Serves 1)
- One Fillet of Smoked Mackerel
- One Beetroot
- Half an Onion
- Half a cup of Risotto Rice
- A cup of hot water
- A teaspoon of Horseradish Sauce
- A Squeeze of Lemon Juice
- A Dash of White Wine (Optional)
- Some Chopped Chives (Optional)
How to Make it…
- This starts like any other risotto. Dice up the onion and fry over a gentle heat with a glug of olive oil. Meanwhile prepare your stock, I make this with the skin of the mackerel fillet rather than a stock cube as I find this adds more flavour. Remove the skin, place it in a mug and cover with hot water.
- By now your onions should be soft and translucent so it is time to add your rice. Fry it for thirty seconds before squeezing over some lemon juice and dousing with a bit of wine (if you have a bottle open, no use opening one just for this!). Once the rice has sucked up any liquid and the alcohol has simmered off add your first table spoon or so of stock.
- Keep an eye on the rice and stir it occasionally but turn your main focus to the beetroot which needs to be peeled, diced and roasted in a medium oven for around 20 minutes.
- Now bring your attention back on the rice. Once the first bit of stock has been sucked up by the rice, add another spoonful, and so on and so forth until almost all the stock has been used. During this time stir the rice often to release its starch, this will make for a creamy smooth texture.
- Once the stock has nearly run out, and hopefully the rice is almost cooked (this should take about 20 minutes), flake in half the fish and stir through the beetroot. Now add the final bit of stock, the horseradish and salt and pepper to taste. It may also need a little more lemon juice.
- Turn the heat right down and let it simmer away until it reaches a firmer, less sloppy, consistency. Serve with the rest of the fish flaked on top and a few chopped chives if you are feeling fancy!
Washing Up Rating: **
I used… 1 pan, 1 wooden spoon, 1 mug, 1 knife, 1 chopping board and 1 teaspoon.
Cost Rating: **
I used… 1/4 of a packet of mackerel costing £2.79, 1/2 a packet of beetroot costing 80p, 1/2 an onion costing 16p, 1/5 of a packet of Arborio rice costing £1.10, 1/20 a jar of horseradish costing 80p, 1/4 of a lemon costing 35p. Total Cost: £1.52