© David Loftus
sweet vanilla risotto with poached peaches and chocolate
People in Britain have always had a bit of a soft spot in their hearts for rice pudding. However, the convenience and relative quality of tinned Ambrosia rice pudding has stopped a lot of people cooking the real thing. I thought it would be good to get you making this lovely old British dessert, but with a northern Italian twist – in the style of a risotto. Pudding rice and risotto rice are both plump, short-grain and starchy, so I thought it would be a good test to see if risotto rice would make great rice pudding – and it did. It has to be one of the best rice puddings I've ever made! It's lovely served with the peaches, but you could also use apricots, strawberries or rhubarb.
When you halve the peaches, leave the stones in – they will come away a lot more easily after they have been cooked. Put them into a small pan with 4 tablespoons of the sugar, the cinnamon stick and the zest and juice of the orange. Put a lid on top and slowly simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the peach skin and stones can be easily removed. You don't want to cook them to pulp – they should be soft but should still hold their shape. Remove from the heat and put to one side.
In an appropriately sized high-sided, thick-bottomed pan with a lid, slowly melt two-thirds of the butter. Score down the length of the vanilla pods and remove the seeds by scraping a knife down the inside of each half. Add the seeds to the butter and stir. Continue to cook for 1 minute before adding your rice with the remaining sugar. Turn the heat up to medium, stir the rice, and add the wine, continuing to stir until it has almost cooked away. Now add the milk little by little. Keep the rice on a slow but constant simmer for about 16 or 17 minutes and stir it as often as you can. In this way you can massage the starch out of the rice and this will give you a silky, oozy end product, much like the classic Italian risotto. When the rice has cooked through it should be soft yet still holding its shape. You may need to add a little more milk or water just to adjust the consistency. Remove from the heat, add the grated white chocolate and the rest of the butter, then stir, place a lid on top and leave for a few minutes.
Remove the skin and stones from the peaches, discard them along with the cinnamon stick, and take the peaches to the table with your block of dark chocolate, snapped into small pieces. Spoon the risotto on to plates, then push a couple of pieces of dark chocolate into the middle of each one. Just so you know, a perfect risotto should slowly creep and ooze to the side of your plate, so don't worry if it starts to spread out! Gently tear the peaches and place some on each plate, then drizzle over some of the lovely juice and sprinkle over a few mint leaves. By the time you go to eat it, the dark chocolate will have melted. Joy joy joy!
• from Jamie's Dinners
6 ripe peaches, halved
6 tablespoons caster sugar
½ a cinnamon stick
zest and juice of 1 orange
2 vanilla pods
325g risotto rice
1 wineglass of white wine
1 litre full fat milk, preferably organic
100g best white chocolate, grated
100g best-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
a handful of fresh mint, leaves picked