Yes, Glyn and I are two of the many people addicted to ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ on a Saturday night and I like to cook us a nice supper to eat while we cosy-in and watch it. This week I didn’t have anything special to cook so I decided to throw together a Sponny Risotto, which is a recipe that works really well when you are camping too…
What is a ‘Sponny’?
‘Sponny’ is a word that I learned from my New Zealand friend and it is short for spontaneous. It’s usually used to describe not planning you day out, but just ‘doing a sponny’ and going where the mood takes you that day. However, I now use it to describe cooking an unplanned meal from whatever ingredients you’ve got hanging around in the fridge or larder. And risottos are just great for Sponny meals because you can throw in any small bits of veg or meat and fish leftovers. The Sponny risotto I cooked on Saturday night used up some prawns that I had previously cooked in garlic butter (drool!) and some pan-fried turkey breast that is one of my happy-mistake recipes which I ‘invented’ when I picked up the wrong spice jar to add to the turkey strips while they were frying (more of my Spicy Turkey Pan Fry in a later blog). So it ended up a sort of paella but in lovely creamy rice.
Hunting for the Ingredients
I rummaged around the veg tray in the fridge and found some red peppers, asparagus, mushrooms and then found a shallot and some of this year’s garlic in the veg basket. (If you’re wondering why I would have something like asparagus casually sitting in the veg tray, it’s because I can’t resist a bargain and if something as gorgeous as that is on the reduced section in the supermarket I grab it and work out what I am going to do with it later!).
I then foraged in my herb garden for some herbs that I thought would go well with these flavours and came back with a couple of bunches of rosemary and oregano. I have a special kind of rosemary in the garden which has a slightly ginger flavour and I would recommend that you get some if you can find it as it is really easy to grow.
I chopped everything up to a similar size and then got ready to cook…
Summer’s Saturday-Night Sponny Risotto
Ingredients (enough for 2 hungry people)
- 5 heaped tbsp arborio rice
- 1 red pepper chopped in to small pieces
- 1 shallot chopped in to small pieces
- 8-9 mushrooms chopped in to small pieces
- 3/4 pint chicken stock (made from packet cube)
- 8-10 large cooked prawns
- 8-10 pieces of pan-fried turkey breast
- a few spears of asparagus chopped in to inch long pieces
- 1 large clove of garlic finely chopped
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary (use half this amount if dried)
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano (use half this amount if dried)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
How to Cook
- Put the olive oil in to a large frying pan and let it come to temperature on a medium heat
- Add the pepper, shallot, garlic and mushrooms to the pan and fry until just soft
- Add the rice and stir until the rice is all coated in the oil
- Pour in a third of the stock and let it cook for 5 mins or so until most has been absorbed
- Add another third and cook until absorbed stirring occasionally
- Add the last third of stock, the herbs, asparagus, prawns and turkey pieces and cook for 3-5 mins
- Add salt and pepper to taste
This is the basic recipe but I like to experiment as I go along so, as I had an open bottle of white wine around (how did that happen?), I added a generous glug to the pan before adding the first third of stock so that the rice got to absorb the wine flavour.
Also, towards the end when I added the last third of stock, I also added a heaped tbsp of Philadelphia cream cheese and stirred it through so that the risotto became extra creamy (what I call ‘smurgy’). Of course you don’t have to do this, you can just follow the basic risotto template:
- lightly fry some cut-up veg in some olive oil
- add some rice and stir to coat
- add a third of chicken (or veg) stock until absorbed
- add another third of stock and cook until absorbed
- add a final third of stock plus any herbs or cooked fish/meat and cook until absorbed
This is why it is so good as a campervan meal as, so long as you have the rice, you can just free-style the rest. To make it super easy just buy ready-cooked prawns and meat from the supermarket. And you can do it all in just one pan (saves gas and water for washing-up).