Chestnut & Balsamic Risotto | A recipe by Gabriel Waterhouse
We’re not going to sugar coat this.
Because it’s a risotto recipe, and that would make no sense.
But the fact is that, despite the immense amount of practice you’re likely to get over the next weeks, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be able to reach the same giddy heights of culinary perfection as Gabriel Waterhouse has. After all, his place, The Water House Project, is one of the best new restaurant in London, and we’d highly recommend visiting when the dust settles.
But at the very least, you can cook up one of his spectacular dishes at home. He’s chosen to share his recipe for chestnut & balsamic risotto with toasted hazelnuts and brown butter. For Gabriel, it’s a dish that “sits in the category of ‘elegant comfort food’, which is something we could all do with a little bit of right now”.
It’s got simple ingredients that – hopefully – won’t require much trouble sourcing, and in his words, “The balsamic balances the sweetness and rounded flavour of the chestnuts, giving the dish some much needed acidity. The toasted hazelnuts give a lovely crunch and the thyme gives some freshness. It’s a simple recipe but the flavours really work.”
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For the chestnut puree (this can be made several hours or even a day in advance):
- 200g cooked chestnuts
- 1/2 medium sized onion
- 1 glug olive oil
- 1/2 garlic clove (peeled and crushed)
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 30ml balsamic vinegar (best quality)
- 300ml whole milk
For the vegetable stock:
- 1 onion sliced
- 5 sprigs thyme
- 2 crushed garlic cloves
- 1 handful parsley stalks
- 1 ltr water
For the risotto:
- 350g risotto rice
- 150ml white wine
- 1 onion (finely diced)
- 1 garlic clove (grated)
- 1 ltr light vegetable stock
For the toasted hazelnuts:
- 50g blanched hazelnuts (roughly chopped)
- 50g butter
- 1 crushed garlic clove
- 3 sprigs thyme
- Salt and black pepper
- 100g parmesan (grated)
- 100g unsalted butter (diced)
- Balsamic vinegar (to taste)
- Fresh thyme leaves
Sweat the onion, garlic, thyme and a pinch of salt in the butter for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the blanched chestnuts coating them in the butter and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in the balsamic vinegar, bring to a boil and add the milk and simmer for 15 minutes. Transfer to a jug blender and blend to a silky smooth puree. Check the seasoning, cover the surface to prevent the puree from getting a skin and chill.
In a small saucepan add the butter, hazelnuts, thyme, garlic and a pinch of salt. Over a gentle heat toast the hazelnuts until the butter begins to foam and brown slightly. It will start to give of a slightly nutty smell and flavour. Leave aside to reheat later.
Bring all the ingredients to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, leave to infuse for 20 minutes.
Over a medium heat sweat the onion in the olive oil for 2 minutes until soft. Add the grated garlic and season with a generous pinch of salt. Add the rice and stir the grains until they have a thin film of oil coating each of them. Increase the heat slightly and add the wine, stir the rice and allow the wine to evaporate. Once evaporated gradually start to incorporate the vegetable stock a ladleful at a time, giving the rice a gentle stir with each ladle added. Finally stir in the chestnut puree, check the seasoning and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Once the stock has been incorporated you can either chill the risotto down on trays and store in the fridge to be reheated later (this is what we call a base) or you can continue to finish the risotto and serve immediately.
Reheat the risotto with a little stock if beginning from chilled. Once hot add the parmesan and butter in one go, adjust the seasoning with salt if necessary and a little more balsamic vinegar to adjust the acidity.
Reheat the hazelnut and brown butter mixture. Serve the risotto into bowls dividing the hazelnuts and brown butter between them and finishing with freshly picked thyme leaves.
Want to support the Water House Project? Buy a voucher & get an insanely good meal when it reopens…