If you are not too fond of rice and looking for an alternative to the traditional italian risotto, I just found the perfect recipe for you below from chef David Royer. This is suitable for vegetarians and easily adjustable for vegans if you are only doing the risotto.
My mom and I found that recipe online which was part of an old french cooking tv program called “Meteo à la carte”. I don’t know if the program still exists as I no longer live in France but there a link to their tv program below the Youtube video. if you are a french speaker this is going to be easy for you to follow. If you are not a french speaker, this is your lucky day because I’m going to translate the recipe for you plus of course a few tips.
First a couple of notes to say that I did not do the chicken recipe because it was a week day and it takes up to 5 hours. I only tried the risotto on its own which was filing and delicious. Second if you only do the risotto the portion will not be enough for 4 hungry adults. It would suit 4 people if you do the chicken as well. I’m going to give you the recipe anyway just the way it is and if you need more then you will have to adjust the ingredients. Worth mentioning that it should be ok for 2 adults and 2 children though.
I really like this recipe because there is just enough ingredients for exactly a family of 4. There is no waste at all and everything is affordable. If you have to buy all ingredients it won’t cost you more than £11 minus the wine because this depends on what sort of wine you want to buy. I already had a decent chenin blanc which I only use for cooking and it was around £4. If you want some leftovers for next day’s pack lunch just double the recipe.
Ingredient for the lentil risotto (suitable for vegetarians at this point. If you are a vegan make sure you use vegan wine, a vegan soft cheese, and rice wine vinegar or mirin, and vegetable stock instead):
- 200g of black raw lentils
- 1 beetroot (this portion is if you have a large one. If like myself you can only find small ones at the supermarket use a ‘bunch’ instead) and 1 carrot
- Water, olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper [to cook the beetroot]
- 100g of celeriac
- 50g of fresh goat cheese (any goat cheese from your local will do)
- 2 onions (I used one white and one red to get a different flavour) and garlic
- a splash of dry white wine
- Chicken stock (in the video the chef is using amazing home made fresh stock. If you have other fish to fry than creating your own stock, buy one already made from the supermarket and dilute in hot water with a fork
- Grated parmesan or a cheaper alternative to sprinkle at the end if you want
Now the ingredients for the chicken if you are not a vegetarian/vegan:
- 4 chicken thighs
- 1 peeler cut in 4 quarters with skin left on (so don’t forget to clean the fruit first)
- Star anise [I don’t like star anise because I don’t like licorice flavour. I would personally replace this either with Allspice or cloves instead]
- Water, olive oil, salt, pepper, and dry white wine (the 70cl mentioned in the video is to share for the chicken and the risotto).
- Foil – to cover (important if you want to make sure the chicken keeps most of its moisture throughout the cooking process)
In a baking tray lay the chicken, then crushed garlic, star anise (or cloves or allspice depending on what you prefer), the peeler cut in 4, water, olive oil, salt, dry white wine, pepper, all to taste. Cover as tight as you can with foil then in the over for 4 to 5 hours at 170 degrees celsius. you should end up with a confit like texture and flavour. (I can’t wait to try that recipe – I do like to call myself a vegetarian meat eater!).
Now for the risotto start with cooking the raw beetroot first. Just cut the beetroot in small cubes, add the water, olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. I added enough liquid to cover generously the beetroot in the pan but not too much as I didn’t want to drown it. It will take about 30 mins to cook and frankly you could just buy already cooked beetroot if you can’t be bothered. But here is the thing, cooking it yourself will make your beetroot a lot more flavoursome and you have to spend some time prepping the other veggies and start cooking the lentils before the beetroot comes into play. So technically you have time to do this. Once it’s on the hob leave to simmer gently and stir once in a while. It doesn’t need much attention from you from that point. You want it to still be a bit crunchy so 30 mins max.
Once the beetroot is simmering here comes the most time consuming part. Cut all the veggies in very small cubes like in the video (carrot, celeriac, onions). The reason for that is you want the veggies to be cooked all the way through. The chef fries the veggies with butter but I prefered to use olive oil instead. Fry all the veggies, then add the garlic, the lentils, a splash of white wine and gradually the chicken stock. If you have made risotto before then you should know how to add the stock: add a bit to cover the dish let it simmer until the moisture is absorbed then again until the lentils are cooked. Don’t cook it too much so taste regularly because you don’t want your lentils to become mushy. You want them to be cooked al dente so still a bit crunchy. Otherwise you might as well just buy ready made mushy lentil in a pack.
Important tip from the chef: do not add the salt at the beginning because otherwise your lentils will NOT cook
Once cooked right at the end add the goat cheese (or a vegan alternative). Simmer enough time for the cheese to melt, then add the cooked beetroot, salt and fresh parsil. Now you are ready to plate.
The lentils are creamy and the chicken should be full of flavour, and falling off the bones because of the slow cooking process. Sprinkle with a bit of grated parmesan at the end if you wish for non-vegans, and enjoy. Happy Easter!
Let me know in the comment section if you have additional tips to share for this recipe or would like more info.