Risotto, two ways

We sell a beautiful risotto at the restaurant where I work. It's wild mushroom, and served with parmesan shavings and a drizzle of truffle oil. As with anything containing truffles, the smell emanating from the plates is just sublime. It's enough to make me hungry even if I've started my shift feeling full. So, on my only night off and cooking opportunity last week, the craving got the better of me and I just had to make risotto.

I'm still excited by all the peas and broad beans around (how tragic that sounds...oh well), and thought they'd make a more summery risotto than truffles. So I just made a basic risotto (saute a finely chopped onion and two finely chopped garlic cloves in olive oil until soft, add 75g risotto rice per person and a knob of butter, stir for a minute or so and add a glug of white wine, wait until absorbed then add hot chicken stock a ladleful at a time until the rice is cooked but still has a bit of bite) but cooked some broad beans in the stock and then added some pea pods to it for extra pea flavour, and stirred in some fresh thyme, basil and chopped chives at the end. Then in went the cooked broad beans (half of them double-podded, the rest left) and a big bowl of fresh peas, until the peas were cooked. To this I added some bacon that I had cut into little pieces and fried until crispy. Lovely with lots of grated parmesan.

Cold risotto is not one of the most appealing leftovers; no matter what method you use, it never really reheats very well. The alternative, however, is excellent: shape balls of risotto with your hands into little cakes, coat in beaten egg and dip in breadcrumbs, then shallow fry until crispy on the outside and soft and gooey in the middle. The Sicilians call their version of this arancini because they look like oranges: they shape rice into balls and deep fry, often putting some sort of filling like mince or chopped mushrooms in the middle. I ate one in Palermo that was almost the size of my head. It was the messiest thing I have ever eaten, given that I had only one flimsy paper napkin with which to stem the flow of oil emanating from it, but it was delicious.

You can stuff the risotto cakes with pieces of mozzarella, or other melting cheese, or whatever you like, really, depending on the flavour of the original risotto. I left mine as it was, but put some ham and parmesan shavings on top. Broad beans, ham and parmesan: perfect combination. I love the crispy coating that forms on the outside of the cakes in contrast with the soft centre. Yum.