Well it’s official, we are back to normal. No holidays, no weddings and back to the 9-5 daily grind unfortunately! One thing that has been great this last week is the amount of beautiful produce coming out of J’s little vegetable patch. We suddenly seem to have piles of green beans of several varieties, carrots and our second batch of beetroot for the year. Green beans and carrots I’m fine with – there’s so much you can do with them on a day to day basis. Beetroot however I’m ashamed to admit I’ve struggled a little bit with to find inspiration. I’ve preserved an enormous batch of it for salads and sandwiches however it has still left a fair pile behind to go! As J doesn’t like it roasted it’s left me a little stumped for ideas.
Flicking through cookery books I came across a recipe for a beetroot and mascarpone risotto in a James Martin book. Just beetroot however seemed a little plain to me and I imagine would lack a contrast of texture which I think is something you really need with a dish like risotto. And so an idea was born – one that has worked out rather well if I say so myself.
I decided to pair the risotto with duck as I though the earthy tones would compliment each other well (plus duck was on special offer the other week and as it’s J’s favourite meat I now have a freezer full of it!) . The crispy bacon adds a nice salty crunch and along with the corn adds a contrasting texture which both compliments the beetroot and stops it being too overpowering against the duck. It also makes the most stunning coloured risotto ever!
Despite the add-ons I still think the beetroot remains the star ingredient here – In fact as long as you have the beetroot base you could pretty much combine it with whatever you fancied. It would work well with some spicy blackened chicken on top or even some crispy lamb chops. Veg wise you could go however you wanted – some pan fried mushrooms could work, or some sautéed green beans if like us you have a serious glut. I would definitely advice to stick with grating the beetroot – don’t be tempted to cut corners and blend it. I’ve tried it both ways in the name of research and if the beetroot stock is blended the risotto looses it’s texture a little too much and becomes a bit of a mush.
While we’re on the beetroot subject I still have a whole row planted to do something with – while this is delicious I’m thinking I may need a wider scale of beetroot recipes! If anyone has any suggestions I’d love to hear them!
Beetroot, Bacon and Corn Risotto with Pan Fried Duck (Serves 2)
2 Duck Breasts – Skin on
3 Small Raw Beetroot – Peeled and grated
Half Onion – Finely chopped
1 Garlic Clove – Minced
Half tsp Dried Thyme
75ml White Wine
500ml Chicken Stock
4 Rashers Smoked Bacon – Diced
1 Corn Cob – Corn removed
110g Risotto Rice
30 Ml Double Cream
50g Parmesan – Finely grated
1 Tbsp Parsley – Finely Chopped
Mix the grated beetroot with 200ml of the stock and set the remaining 300ml aside for later use. Heat the butter in a large heavy bottoms saucepan and add the onion, garlic and dried thyme. Sauté on a medium heat until the onions is softened.
Add the rice and stir well to combine with the butter and onions, season well (it can take plenty of black pepper this risotto!). Add the wine and simmer until the wine has been completely absorbed then add a ladle of the beetroot stock. Simmer again until the stock has been absorbed and there is no more moisture then add another ladle full of stock. Repeat until the beetroot stock has been used then move on to the reserved chicken stock.
Meanwhile, heat a frying pan with a little oil and add the bacon. Fry until crispy and golden then remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside – leave the pan on a medium heat. Score the skin of the duck breast and season well with fresh pepper and sea salt. Place skin side down in the frying pan – it should immediately sizzle. Turn the heat to medium-low and leave without turning or moving for 15 minutes. Season the bottom side and turn the heat up to get the pan nice and hot again. Turn over then turn the heat back to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes on the other side then remove from the pan and leave to rest.
Drain most of the fat from the duck pan (save for roast potatoes) and add the corn. Sauté on a high heat until charred a little around the edges.
Once the rice is cooked though but still has a little bite to it. Stir through the bacon, cream, parmesan and corn. Stir to combine and add a little more stock or water if it looks a little stiff – it should be unctuous and loose. Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed then add any juices that have came out of the duck as it rests. Sit the duck on top of the risotto to serve.