Cheddar & Thyme Risotto, Walnut-Crusted Goat’s Cheese, and Balsamic Apples

I wouldn’t be surprised if the title of this post didn’t actually fit on the website. It’s possible the programming won’t be able to handle the sheer enormity of it, just like me when I think about the vastness of the universe, or when I see a really big horse. But the important thing is that we’re here, together, looking at this obscenely long title, and tapping our feet impatiently as we await the appearance of the recipe.

But first – an update!

At the end of January I will finally be having my gallbladder removed. This has been a long time coming and I’m very excited to be gallbladder (and hopefully gallstone) free for the rest of my natural life.

Fortunately, my brother found me a replacement:

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We’ve named him Gallbert Sullivan (thanks Isla).

Sigh. I love Christmas.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s get to the actual recipe. While I was in hospital with an infection (damn you, gallbladder) in November, Isla cooked up a few of our Gousto box recipes – because they were there and I wasn’t. I had the remainder of a particularly intriguing risotto when I was allowed to go home (after 8 days and 4 cannulas) and seriously enjoyed it. My recipe takes some of the flavours from that – because it was delicious – while still using my usual basic recipe (with a few twists).
Cheddar & Thyme Risotto, Walnut-Crusted Goat’s Cheese, and Balsamic Apples (Vegetarian, Gluten-free)

Serves 2
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Equipment

Large frying pan; small roasting tray lined with greaseproof paper; grater; measuring jug; a small plate; cutting and stirring equipment, for the usual… cutting and stirring.

Ingredients

For the risotto:

  • 140g risotto rice (I use one generously spilling handful per person rather than weighing it out)
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 80g sharp cheddar (I use reduced fat, but full fat is fine)
  • 15g butter (basically – a generous knob. Like Iron Man)
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 1 veggie stock cube in 700ml water (you might not need the whole lot)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

For the goat’s cheese & apples

  • 1 eating apple
  • 1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 125g log of soft goat’s cheese (don’t get the stuff with the rind – the walnuts won’t stick)
  • 50g walnuts (again, a handful will do if you can’t be bothered to measure)

Method

  1. Boil a kettle and turn the oven on at 200°C. Put your pan on a medium-low heat and add the olive oil. While things are heating up in the kitchen (ooh-er missus), get started on your goat’s cheese, as this can then go back in the fridge until it’s time to serve up. Chop the walnuts as finely as you can, then tip them onto a small plate. Take the log of goat’s cheese and roll it in the walnuts, pressing down firmly enough that the nuts adhere to the entire surface. I coated the ends of the cheese as well, but that’s entirely up to you. When you’re done, brush the remaining walnuts back onto the chopping board, put the cheese on the empty plate, and pop it in the fridge to chill. Done.
  2. Crumble the stock cube into your measuring jug and add 700ml boiling water. Peel and dice the onion then add to the pan, which should now be up to temperature. Cook for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally as they start to soften. While this is happening, peel and finely chop your garlic – or grate it if you can’t be bothered – then do the same with your thyme. If you’re struggling to get the leaves off the thicker stems, scrape your knife down them and they will “shed” the leaves onto your chopping board.
  3. Leave the thyme where it is and, as long as your onion is starting to look nice and translucent, add the garlic to the pan. Cook for around a minute, stirring occasionally, then add your rice. Cook for another minute or so, then add in the wine and the vinegar; it should make a great sizzling noise. Season generously with pepper and add a little salt, stir, then leave it to soak up the liquid for a couple of minutes. Time to sort out that apple.
  4. Cut your apple into slices or wedges, avoiding/removing the core, and then add them to your lined baking tray. Chuck in the vinegar then move the slices around so that they’re nicely coated on both sides. Pop them in the oven for 15 minutes – or until they’re tender but still resist slightly when you poke them with a fork – and get back to the risotto. You don’t have to flip the apple slices, but if you want to do so halfway through like I did, be my guest.
  5. Stir the rice and make sure that the liquid is completely absorbed, before adding about a third of the stock to the pan. Stir frequently until nearly all the liquid is gone, then add the next third of stock (half of what’s remaining in your jug). Repeat the process until all your stock is gone, or until the rice is cooked to your liking. While the rice is absorbing the last of the liquid, add the chopped thyme and any leftover nuts you’ve got on the chopping board, and stir to combine. Take the apples out of the oven and get the cheddar, butter, and goat’s cheese out of the fridge. Grate the cheddar.
  6. To finish: once the rice has nearly absorbed all the liquid, add a little more salt and pepper (if needed) along with the butter and grated cheddar. Stir until everything’s melty, creamy, and delicious. Divide between two bowls, lay on the apples, and cut the goat’s cheese into six chunky slices. Lay these alongside… and dive in. Heaven in a bowl.

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I made slightly more risotto than needed (think two-and-a-bit spilling handfuls of arborio), so I’ve now got it chilling down in the fridge for arancini later in the week. Risotto is amazing reheated, so if you make more than you can eat in one sitting, don’t fret! Just have it the next day, maybe with a generous amount of crusty, buttered bread.

Or don’t! That’s fine too.

Happy New Year, guys. May 2020 bring you great joy.

Hattie

P.S. I’m pescatarian now! So no more meat recipes, I’m afraid. Not that there were many… Fortunately, there will still be beans. You just wait until I show you my veggie traybake quesadillas. Oh boy howdie.

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