Risotto with nettles and lamb's kidneys

Serves 2-4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

As I mentioned earlier, this marriage was certainly not pre-planned - and at the speed at which Clare and Lori were picking those nettles, it almost never happened (make sure you take some gloves with you). When an animal like a lamb has such small kidneys, it's important to make them go as far as possible. The kidneys had to stretch to three couples, so a risotto seemed like the perfect dish with which to start the meal off. Then we discovered that the larder had every pulse and rice you could imagine except risotto rice, so Alex had to nip out next door to the Daylesford Organic shop; it's handy having a farm shop and deli like that on your doorstep when you live in the middle of nowhere.

2-4 lamb's kidneys, cleaned
1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1tsp chopped thyme leaves
100g butter
100ml red wine
1 litre of chicken stock or a good quality stock cube, dissolved in that amount of boiling water
A couple of handfuls of young nettle tops, washed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2tbsp freshly grated Parmesan, plus more to serve

Melt 30g of the butter in a thick-bottomed pan and gently cook the shallots and thyme for 3-4 minutes without colouring until the shallots are soft.

Add the rice and cook on a low heat for a couple of minutes, stirring every so often. Add the red wine and simmer for a couple of minutes, then gradually add the stock a couple of ladles at a time, ensuring that each addition is absorbed before adding the next. Continue cooking and adding the stock for about 15 minutes until the rice is just cooked. f Meanwhile heat the vegetable oil in a small frying pan, season the kidneys and fry them on a medium heat for about 3-4 minutes on each side, keeping them pink; remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Add the nettles, season and continue cooking the risotto for a couple of minutes. Slice the kidneys as thinly as possible and add to the risotto with the butter and a tablespoon of the Parmesan. Re-season to taste and add a little more stock if necessary. The risotto should be of a fairly wet consistency, and not too stodgy. Leave the risotto in the pan for a couple of minutes, stirring it occasionally, then serve with extra Parmesan if you wish.

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