Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Ham, Squash & Leek Orzotto

It seems that whenever I cook a large ham, the first thing I want to do is make orzotto. It's what I did the last time I cooked a large ham, and I'm already looking forward to the next time. No doubt I should branch out a little, but I love it so much. It's so creamy and richly flavoured.

6 servings
2 hours - 1 hour prep time

Ham Squash and Leek Orzotto
Pre-Cook the Barley and the Squash:

1 cup barley
3 cups ham or smoked turkey stock
1 medium butternut squash
2 tablespoons sunflower seed oil

Cook the barley in the stock, until the stock is absorbed and the barley is tender. I prefer to do this in my rice-cooker.

Meanwhile, peel the squash, and remove the seeds and stringy bits from the centre. Cut it into thin slices, and toss them with the oil in a shallow roasting pan. Bake the squash at 400°F for about 40 to 45 minutes, until tender.

Both of these steps can be done up to 24 hours before you plan to assemble the dish, and stored in the fridge once cool until wanted.

Make the Orzotto:
2 cups diced ham or smoked turkey
2 medium leeks
2 tablespoons sunflower seed oil
8 or 9 cups ham or smoked turkey stock
1 teaspoon rubbed savory
1 teaspoon rubbed thyme
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- plus more grated Parmesan to be passed with the dish

Cut the ham or turkey into dice, and set it aside. Trim the leeks, and chop them finely, discarding the roots and any very dark, tough or damaged portions. Rinse the chopped leeks thoroughly, and drain them well.

Heat the oil in a very large skillet, and cook the leeks fairly gently, stirring frequently, until soft and slightly browned. Heat the stock, and keep it warm but not boiling as you prepare the orzotto.

Mix the barley and several ladles-full of the stock into the leeks. Add the seasonings. While that simmers, mash the squash with a fork, leaving it fairly chunky.

Mix the squash into the barley with a little more broth. When that has simmered, and absorbed most of the stock, mix in the ham, the wine and a bit more stock. Adjust the seasonings, keeping in mind that you should think it just slightly undersalted - don't forget that the cheese will add a fair bit of saltiness when it goes in.

Once you have achieved a well amalgamated, flowing but not too soupy mixture, the orzotto can be served. Mix in the cup of grated Parmesan, and continue cooking until melted, just a minute or two. Serve at once, although leftovers do reheat very nicely.

Last year at this time I made Cabbage, Apple & Walnut Salad, and Barley & Cheese. Hmm, must be barley season.


Joanne said...

What a strange thing to crave with ham! I wouldn't complain though - this looks fabulous!

Ferdzy said...

It's the ham stock that does it, really. Too good for mere soup.