I made the most horrendous mistake.
I didn’t realize what I’d done until I was making myself a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. Room temperature butter for spreading on the bread, nice challah bread for the outside and a lovely sharp old cheddar cheese for the inside. Everything I needed for my delicious sandwich.
That’s what I thought.
As the bread was getting toasty and golden-brown on the outside, something weird was happening to the cheese. Instead of getting creamy and melting, the cheese started seeping out of the bread. So much so, and so quickly too, that there was more cheese in the fry pan than between the bread slices before I could do anything about it. What was going on here? Why was my sandwich turning into such a hideous mess?
I had mistakenly purchased low-fat cheddar cheese. As the cheese oozed its way out of the sandwich and slithered around the pan, I swore to be more careful next time I shopped so I’d never mistakenly buy this ersatz cheese-ish product again.
Now when people ask me if they can substitute a low-fat product for the real thing, I’ll be able to advise them against it and have this story for an example of why they should not. I think if a recipe is calling for cheese, unless someone has specifically tested an alternative, it’s best to stick with what’s asked for. It’s not only about the calories, but the way the substituted product reacts with the other stuff in the recipe too.
This risotto, made with real, not-reduced-fat old cheddar cheese is tasty. Viva real cheddar!
Green onions… an acceptable substitute.
Finely sliced onions.
Melted butter and olive oil.
Add the green onions.
While the onions are cooking, measure the Arborio rice.
Add the rice to the softened onions, butter and oil.
Stir the rice so that it becomes coated in the oil and butter.
Turn up the heat and add the white wine.
Add the Dijon mustard too.
Start adding the chicken stock (I approve this substitution), a cup or ladleful at a time, stirring until the stock is absorbed before adding more.
All the stock’s been added.
Add the cheddar cheese and stir it in to melt.
Garnish with fresh chives.
Cheddar Cheese Risotto.
Another great recipe from my autographed copy of Nigellissima by Nigella Lawson.
Cheddar Cheese Risotto
This might seem odd to Italians but it works beautifully: the starchy rice, the sharp Cheddar, both are the perfect counterpoint for each other.
I make this on days when I need to escape to the kitchen and have a good, quiet, relaxing and mindless 20 minutes staring into the middle distance and stirring. I heartily recommend it.
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 finely sliced baby leeks (or fat spring onions)
1-1/2 cups risotto rice
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 cups hot vegetable broth
1 cup chopped Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Melt the butter and oil in a medium-sized pan and cook the sliced baby leeks until they have softened.
Add the risotto rice and keep stirring for a minute or so, then turn up the heat and add the wine and mustard, stirring until the wine is absorbed.
Start ladling in the hot stock, letting each ladleful become absorbed as you stir, before adding the next one.
Stir and ladle until the rice is al dente, about 18 minutes, then add the cheese, stirring it into the rice until it melts.
Take the pan straight off the heat, still stirring as you do so, and spoon the risotto into warmed dishes, sprinkling with some of the chopped chives.