It all started because Oliver at Salad Days, Offal Nights made a St George risotto using English ingredients (which seemed to contain mostly leeks!?). That’s a good idea I thought so I started thinking about a St Andrews version.
Neeps (swedes) would work quite well with the barley and my first thought was to roast some small joint of lamb or venison to go with the risotto. Then I remembered about the haggis in the freezer.
We didn’t have a burns supper this year. Angela was still blighted by her gall bladder so the nice big haggis we had stayed shut in the freezer; waiting for a more pleasant time when it could be defrosted and enjoyed properly. I ran the idea through my head a couple of times – haggis and neeps risotto. It didn’t sound bad. Certainly worth a try.
For about 30 minutes everything went according to plan. I’d started by frying off cubes of neep in some olive oil until they started to soften up a little and turn bright orange. From that point on it was standard risotto routine but with pearl barley. So a chopped onion was added until soft then the barley and a splash of wine before adding the chicken stock a bit at a time.
After half an hour I had a really nice risotto on the go. The only thing to do at that point was stir in some of the haggis I’d just heated up in the microwave.
Unfortunately as soon as I added the haggis to the pot the risotto went from looking delicious to brown speckled puke in a few seconds. Damn!
While it looked pretty unappealing the risotto didn’t taste too bad. Still, I can’t help thinking that it was better without the haggis in it. I should have made neep risotto served with haggis. That would have been a much better dish. Even if I’d gone with my original idea of roasting a small joint of lamb or beef and serving that with the risotto I think I’d have been onto a winner.
You win some and lose some I guess. The only way to learn is to try. Who would have expected that adding haggis to something didn’t immediately make it more awesome?
1 onion, finely chopped
half a neep (swede), cubed
200g pearl barley
1 small glass white wine
1 litre chicken stock
1 sprig rosemary, chopped
2 sprigs of thyme
Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and gently fry the cubes of neep until they start to soften a little and turn bright orange.
Add the onion and soften it for a few minutes.
Rinse the barley in some cold water, drain it then add it to the pot and stir it round to coat it in the oil.
Pour in the wine and stir the barley round until it starts to soak up the wine.
Begin adding the stock a tablespoon or so at a time as you would with a normal risotto.
If you run out of stock start adding water. Unlike with rice you don’t want much bite left in the barley as it doesn’t feel nice to chomp into.
Once the neeps and barley are soft stir in the chopped rosemary and the leaves from the thyme.
Serve with haggis or some roast lamb.