Basic concept. Make a vegetable risotto. Cover with slices of a strong alpine cheese, like Reblochon. Grill until the cheese melts and you can spoon mounds of risotto into bowls, oozing with strings of cheese that will delight your eager audience.
I have made a butternut squash risotto here, because I try desperately to sneak vegetables in wherever possible. You could also omit the butternut squash and it would be just as delicious.
Risotto rice, like arborio or carnaroli
1/2 an onion
1 stick of celery
Parsley (curly or flat leaf is fine)
1/4 Butternut squash, cut into small pieces
A knob of butter
Small glass of white wine
1 x vegetable stock cube
Boiling water from the kettle
Endoferm (a German seasoning that adds a deep flavour. In absence, leave it out completely, or use a tiny sprinkle of plain curry powder)
100gm Reblochon cheese, or any other alpine cheese that melts (eg raclette, morbier), rind removed and cut into thin slices
To make the risotto, begin by filling the kettle with water and bringing it to the boil. You will now have this on hand for when you need to start pouring it into the rice mixture.
Chop the onion, celery, parsley and butternut squash into small chunks and blitz to a pulp in a food processor. Alternatively you can chop this with a knife, but do make sure it is finely diced. You want everything to meld together in the finished risotto so you cannot identify individual chunks of vegetables.
Over medium heat, add some olive oil to a medium-large sized frying pan and add the chopped onions, celery, parsley and butternut squash mixture. Sprinkle over some salt and cook until soft. This will take around 5 minutes. Push the vegetables to the side and crumble in the vegetable stock cube. Use your spoon to break this up further over the heat and then stir into the mixture, then add the endoferm (if using). You can now add the rice. For two people, I pour the rice directly into my hand and allow for two generous handfuls of rice to tumble into the pan. A little more than a handful each for hungry people works well! Stir the rice into the vegetables and continue to cook over medium heat for a minute or so, until you see the rice begin to go slightly translucent at the edges. This shows that the grains have picked up some flavour already. Turn the heat to high and start to add the liquid. Begin by pouring the small glass of white wine into the pan. You should hear a sizzle. Once the wine is fully absorbed into the rice, use the boiling water from the kettle. Pour small amounts of water in at a time, just enough to cover the rice. Allow for it to absorb the liquid again before repeating the process. You will need to do this about 6-7 times. The rice should take about 15-20 minutes to soften. Test it by taking small amounts with a fork so you don’t overcook it and create a mush. Once the rice is cooked, turn the heat off and stir in the knob of butter. The risotto is now complete.
Preheat the grill to 180 degrees.
Transfer the risotto into a baking dish and smooth out the top. Take the slices of cheese and roughly cover the risotto, leaving some space between each slice to allow for the cheese to melt. Grill for a few minutes, keeping an eye on the risotto to ensure the cheese does not burn. You are looking for the point that the cheese is fully melted, just at the point where it will begin to take a little colour. Remove from the oven and serve while the cheese is hot for maximum ooze.