Out with the old, in with the new. It’s a saying that you hear all the time at the moment as people around the world prepare to celebrate the dawning of 2015, a new year. It’s one of those grammatically peculiar phrases that English is so good at, lacking a subject, verb or object, yet making perfect sense to anybody who is a native English speaker. Who’s doing the throwing out? Who’s bringing in the new? And what is the old stuff that we are throwing out? Clothes? Books? Relationships?
For the first time in years, I am spending new year at home in sunny South Africa, in my brother’s beautiful holiday home on the coast. It’s the holiday that dreams are made of – a clapboard house overlooking the crashing surf; sun-warmed wooden decks; blue and white sofas enticing you to enjoy an afternoon nap; and deckchairs where we snuggle under fleecy blankets to stargaze at night. Adults slip into an easy routine of relaxed meals, walks and naps, while the kids run free – momentarily uncoupled from iPads and Xboxes – fishing in rockpools, making up complicated ball games, exploring the dunes and watching the waves for the perfect surfing break.
With a house so full of people, the expression “out with the old, in with the new” takes on a whole new meaning. My sister-in-law’s war cry at mealtimes becomes “no leftovers, everybody! We need to make space in the fridge!”. And when the cry is not heeded and we do end up with leftovers, some creativity is called for. Last night’s steak becomes today’s salad topping; or yesterday’s boozy grape dessert becomes the base for tomorrow’s sangria. And if your family, like mine, are hugely fond of large gammon joints for Christmas, leftovers are inevitable but so versatile. This clever risotto uses up not only the ham at the back of the fridge, but also its side dish of sautéed Brussels sprouts. Because the ham is so flavoursome it also needs minimal seasoning to make a satisfying and fuss-free holiday meal – and never underestimate the satisfaction of clearing your fridge of the old to make way for the new 😉
Wishing all my Cooksister readers a happy, healthy and prosperous 2015!
- About 100g cooked gammon/ham choppeed
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 large cloves of garlic, crushed
- About 1 cup cooked Brussels sprouts, chopped
- 300g of risotto rice (Arborio or Carnarolli)
- 60g Parmesan cheese, grated
- 150ml white wine
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 20g +20g butter
- 600ml vegetable stock
- salt and black pepper
- Melt 20g of the butter together with the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the onion, garlic, gammon and sprouts and sauté until the onion is translucent and the gammon is heated through.
- Add the rice and cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly stir so that each grain is well-coated with oil/butter. Add the white wine and keep stirring until the liquid has been absorbed almost completely.
- Add the hot stock a ladleful at a time (probably about 150-200 ml per ladle). Keep stirring until each ladleful has been completely absorbed, but do not let the rice dry out and stick to the pot. Once each ladleful is absorbed, add the next until the stock has all been added. The rice should be soft but each grain should retain some bite in the centre, perfectly al dente, which should take about 20 minutes.
- As soon as the rice is ready, remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 20g of butter and the rest of the grated Parmesan cheese. Taste and season with salt and black pepper as desired – I added no salt as the gammon and the stock already contained enough.
- Garnish with a little more grated Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.