Smoked Fish Risotto

I reckon this year the trees have been luxuriating so long in the warm weather that the leaves forgot to turn colour and fall off – till now, and it’s the beginning of November for goodness sake. Our woods are still alight with gold and umber, and only just beginning to thin out. I don’t know if this is the first visible sign of global warming or not, but that is one doomsday scenario it has been impossible to miss in the media this week. The Stern Survey (what an appropriate name!) has spelled out the dire economic consequences of ignoring global warming, and I must say it makes extremely uncomfortable reading. Major perpetrators of the sin of ‘emission’ are the airlines, it seems, and I bet it won’t be long before there is a tax on air travel. Michael and I try to avoid airports like the plague anyway, but it did cross my mind as I was walking round our kitchen garden what an awful lot of C02 must be emitted jetting strawberries in winter – and many other varieties of out-of-season produce – from all corners of the globe to our supermarkets. I realise most people don’t have the luxury of a kitchen garden but, who knows, without the indulgence of all-the-year-round availability we might begin to appreciate the beauty of the seasons and what each one has to offer. And perhaps our farmers might be encouraged to start growing again some of the things that foreign producers have made uneconomic, like cherries and damsons and apricots…Ironically this week’s recipe doesn’t include any kitchen garden produce (apart from the onions and parsley), but it is a continuation of my current how-to-cheat preoccupation. This method of cooking risotto produces just as creamy and delicious results as the classic, time-consuming process of constantly adding liquid to the rice until it is cooked. Try it for yourself.

Serves 2

This recipe is from A Year in my Kitchen

Smoked Fish Risotto
 8 oz (225 g) smoked haddock fillets
 2 oz (50 g) smoked salmon
 4 fl oz (110 ml) Arborio rice
 1 oz (25 g) butter
 1 small onion, finely chopped
 1 level tablespoon capers
 2 cornichons, chopped small
 5 fl oz (150ml) dry white wine
 2 heaped tablespoons parmesan
 1 heaped tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
 1 heaped tablespoon creme fraiche
 Salt and freshly milled black pepper


Start off by skinning the smoked haddock: using a sharp knife cut horizontally between the flesh and the skin at the tail end. After you have loosened some of the skin it will peel off easily.

Divide the haddock into medium-sized flakes and chop the smoked salmon roughly.

Next heat the butter in a wide saucepan and when it’s foaming add the chopped onion and cook over a medium heat for about 3 minutes. Then add the rice and stir it around to get it nice and buttery.

Now add the flakes of smoked haddock and the smoked salmon, followed by the capers and chopped cornichons.

Finally pour in the wine and 3 fl oz (75 ml) water, season well with salt and give everything a good but gentle mix with a wooden spoon.

Bring it all up to simmering point, then cover with a tight-fitting lid and reduce the heat as low as you can so you have the gentlest of simmers.

Set a timer for 20 minutes - very important it doesn’t over-cook.

As soon as it is cooked and the grains are tender but with just a little bite to them, stir in the parmesan and the crème fraiche.

Serve straightaway with a little parsley sprinkled over each serving.

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