Joseph Benjamin’s ‘Smoked Haddock & Leek Risotto, Poached Egg & Anchovy Pangrattato’
Good day floggers! Time for another ‘Make Your Home a Restaurant’ recipe idea. This time I am going to avoid cheese because the last two have been fairly cheesy. Instead, I am going to try and explain how to recreate a fabulous risotto that Lucy had at Joseph Benjamin in Chester. It was a ‘Smoked haddock & leek risotto with a poached egg and anchovy pangrattato’ and it tasted incredible. The good thing about risottos is that once you know how to make one, you can improvise to make more or less any. This one is no different really, although the flavour-filled ingredients and delicious umami balance make it a cut above most homecooked dishes. It also had a beautiful poached egg on top, adding to the sense of rich luxuriousness.
On that note, one thing I would love to get across in this series is that you shouldn’t be afraid to try cooking with slightly unusual ingredients! Smoked fish is not particularly expensive and it’s an amazing way to get real depth into your cooking. Don’t be put off if you can’t get hold of smoked haddock, I couldn’t, so I used smoked mackerel instead, and it was just as delicious. Likewise, I have recently discovered anchovies as a seasoning rather than a main element and they’re just great! In this dish they are used to add a delicious salty taste of the sea to the pangrattato (toasted breadcrumbs), which acts as a garnish and replaces the parmesan that I would normally put on risotto. Anyway, let’s get down to the recipe!
Ingredients for 2:
- 1 Cup Arborio Rice
- 2 Smoked Fish Fillets (ideally Haddock but I used Mackerel)
- Glug of White Wine (if you have it)
- Kettle of Boiling Water
- 1 Stockpot (or about 750ml of Stock – could be chicken, veg or fish) N.B. Good stock makes all the difference in risotto. If you make your own or buy decent quality stockpots, it’ll make the world of difference!
- 1 Celery Stick
- 2 Leeks
- 2tsp Mixed Herbs
- 1 or 2 Cloves Garlic
- 1 Piece of Bread – in breadcrumbs
- 6 Anchovies (keep the oil)
- 1tbs Olive Oil
- 2 Eggs
- 1tbs Vinegar
- Handful of Finely Chopped Fresh Chives/Parsley
- For this you really want to make your own breadcrumbs, so they have a bit of size and texture.
- Use slightly stale bread or put the bread in the oven for 5 mins to dry it out a bit.
- Then blend it into smallish crumbs – you don’t want dust.
- Put a frying pan on a high heat to get hot and then cover the bottom with anchovy oil.
- Chop 3 of your anchovies finely and put them in to start frying.
- Add your breadcrumbs – don’t overfill the pan as we want them all to take in the anchovy flavours and get nice and crisp.
- Fry for a couple of minutes until they start to brown nicely.
- Transfer into a tray and leave in the oven to stay warm (if oven isn’t already on for bread, you don’t need to turn it on yet
NB: If using haddock then you will need to poach it before any of these steps! Do this for about 6 minutes depending on the size of your fish – it’s ready when it starts to flake. Just place it in an ovenproof dish and pour over white wine until it’s nearly covered (use a bit of water if you don’t want to use too much wine) and bung it in the oven. The beauty of this is that you can use the poaching liquid in the risotto for even more delicious flavour!
- Using the same frying pan, use a bit more anchovy oil and if you want, some olive oil.
- Put in the rest of the chopped anchovies, sliced leeks and finely chopped celery (you don’t need the celery, but it adds some texture and base flavour, as well as good fibres).
- Season with pepper and dry herbs and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the minced/finely chopped garlic.
- Cook slowly for another 3 or 4 minutes so everything is nicely fried but not too coloured and then pour in the risotto rice to toast off.
- Stir it all in so the rice gets coated in oil and add your stockpot/cube (if using).
- Turn the heat to full and add a good glug of white wine or if you don’t have any, add a glug of your liquid (this could be stock or if you have already put your stockpot in, then just add water from your kettle – no point in diluting stock in a jug, just means more washing up!).
- From now on, you are basically just repeating this process of adding liquid in small batches and stirring while it cooks away. Then when the rice starts to stick the bottom, add more liquid and stir again.
- As you get closer to finishing, put the oven on at around 100°c to heat the breadcrumbs and add half of the fish to get it warm.
- Keep repeating this process until the rice starts to get a nice and creamy.
- Re-boil the kettle for your poached egg and put the boiling water into a deepish frying pan and then refer to the section below on egg poaching.
- When it gets to this stage, add the other half of your smoked fish, broken into rough pieces.
- Taste and check if rice is ready, add seasoning to taste.
- Chop some your fresh herbs and add half, save some for garnish.
- When the rice is cooked and you’ve tasted it, get it to the consistency you want by adding water or leaving it to rest for a bit.
- Serve it in nice bowls and break the warmed fish over the risotto, evenly.
- Sprinkle with fresh herbs and then add your delicious poached egg and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Finally, top with your pangrattato and a twist of pepper, before serving with a flourish!
The Poached Egg
- Get your frying pan full of simmering water.
- Put in a good splash of vinegar (I use white wine vinegar, but malt works well).
- Crack your fresh eggs and break them gently into the water, leaving plenty of space between them.
- Leave for around 3-5 minutes.
- When they look about ready, lift eggs out with a slotted spoon and gently feel the yolk and white. The yolk should have a bit of wobble to it and the white should feel bouncy but firm.
- When you get to this stage, transfer to kitchen roll and then to your risotto.
- Boom, poached eggs aren’t so scary after all!
And there you have it! A simple step-by-step recipe for a delicious restaurant standard (or nearly) risotto. It’s delicious, smoky and full of luxurious flavours. The richness really makes you feel spoilt. Add a nice citrusy bottle of white wine to cut through the creamy risotto and suddenly you’ll feel like you’re in the lovely Chester restaurant that inspired this article! On that note, if you are ever passing through the old city of Chester, Joseph Benjamin is a great place for a special dinner. The vibe is smart casual and the alcohol selection is fabulous. Plus, they do a baked cheese starter with charcuterie which is bloody epic. Then there was this risotto, done by professionals which was so good I had to write about it. So, if you’re in any doubt, give it a go and try for yourself!
Thank you so much for reading. I hope this idea helps add some flavour to your life! It was a dish that really set my taste buds tingling, so I hope this sensation is passed on to you. Please get in touch if you have any comments on this or other flogs. I’m loving the escapism that writing these provides and hopefully it offers something similar for you when reading!
Enjoy your Home Restaurant!
Yours in food,