Recipe books are, for me, a lot like glossy magazines – highly irresistible, a lovely way to have an afternoon disappear and, less enjoyably, a small sinking pit of money. They seem to be accumulating at an alarming rate, too... hmmm. By contrast, the other penguin tends to be quietly bemused by my fascination*, and goes back to watching bad horror films. Recently, though, there was a Development. The other penguin has acquired a recipe book.
A recent weekend away involved, among other things, inordinate amounts of time spent at the Australian Institute of Sport. Which has a bookshop. Which contains recipe books. And, after much humming and harring, this was bought...
I gave it skeptical looks, a brief flick through, and thereafter avoided it. My current cooking proclivities tend towards the indulgent and impractical; recipes for the busy athlete tend to fall outside these parameters. The other penguin, however, was keen on things to take for lunch** and so, while I spent a quiet evening down the rabbit hole, he decided to try out a new recipe. The recipe was for baked beef risotto, and I must confess that I eyed with much the same suspicion as the book in general. Risotto? With minced beef in it? Nooo... And then.
Then, delicious smells started wafting out of the kitchen. A request was made to try a taste to see if it was done. And, not that long later, risotto emerged, and I was proved resoundingly wrong in my skepticism.
The risotto turned out to be wonderful (but not at all photogenic). Very tasty, very filling, and ideal for a murky winter Sunday night (I’d imagine it translates equally well to other days of the week, too!). Those athletes are on to a good thing with this one. And it made enough to feed an army. Or at least provide quite a few lunches for the week. It’s a bit like a risotto that thought about being a Bolognese. Potentially indecisive, but certainly tasty...
In case you feel like trying out an unexpected risotto for yourself, this is how it's made:
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
350 g lean beef mince
1 ½ cups arborio rice
1 litre beef stock
150 g baby spinach leaves
400 g sweet potato / kumera, cubed
1 tbsp grated parmesan
spray olive oil
Preheat oven to 180°C. Spray a large pan with oil and heat. Cook the onion, garlic and mince for about 5 minutes or until browned, breaking up any lumps of mince with a fork. Add the rice and stir until well combined. Stir in the stock, spinach and sweet potato and bring to the boil. Transfer the mixture to a 2 litre ovenproof dish. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid from the dish, stir the risotto well and return to the oven to cook, uncovered, for a further 10 minutes or until the rice is tender and the stock has been absorbed. Stir in the parmesan and season with pepper to taste.
* This also applies in relation to bad puns and small furry / feathery creatures.
** Apparently not everybody exists for months on end eating soup, rice paper rolls or sushi, interspersed with occasional vats of ramen.