British asparagus is with us for but a brief while, and together with juicy flakes of smoked haddock, it makes a stunning risotto writes Sandra Tate … Firstly, smoke the haddock (and it’s worth smoking enough for this dish and a side of haddock to spare). Prepare a brine of 600ml water (boiled and cooled) and 150g salt. Lay 2 sides of haddock (total weight of mine was 700g) side by side in a snug fitting container and pour over the brine to immerse. Remove from brine after 30 minutes and rinse thoroughly then dry completely with kitchen paper. Lay together on a steel wire Bradley rack. Set the bradley smoker to off add 6 oak bisquettes to the stack. Once smoking is in full progress, slide the haddock in (with a tray below it to catch drips) and smoke for 30 minutes then raise the temperature to 70°C/160°F for a further hour. The flesh will be lightly tinged with colour, opaque, and moist. Allow to cool, wrap in greaseproof parchment, and refrigerate.
Editor’s note: Fish stock is available from some good supermarkets but making your own is terribly simple and very worthwhile. Ask your fishmonger for some white fish bones when purchasing your haddock – he’ll be happy to oblige and at no cost. Place the bones on a large tray together with an unpeeled onion, a clean leek, a couple of sticks of celery and a drizzle of olive oil. Roast in a medium oven for half an hour until colouring. Transfer everything to a large pan; rinse and scrape the roasting tin with hot water to recover the fish residues and pour over the bones and vegetables; add a large glass of white wine, a pinch of saffron, a dried red chilli, and half a can of chopped tomatoes. Bring to the boil then simmer for 30 minutes before straining through a very fine sieve. Fish stock will keep for only a couple of days in the fridge but freezes well.
Bradley Smoked Haddock & Asparagus Risotto (Serves 2)
350g side of smoked haddock (see above for brining/smoking method)
250g arborio rice
900ml good fish stock (see editor’s note for homemade fish stock recipe)
200g bundle asparagus
1 shallot, peeled & finely chopped
1tbsp freshly chopped chervil
1 Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over gentle heat and cook the chopped shallot for 3 minutes to soften (do not allow to colour). Add the rice and some seasoning and stir into the butter to coat; once the rice is glistening, add a ladle of hot stock. The stock will be absorbed fairly quickly and then it’s time to add more. Continue to add stock by the ladleful, stirring occasionally, until the rice is almost tender and the stock is taken up (you may need more, or less, stock – add a little water if needs be).
2 Meanwhile, trim the woody ends from the asparagus and discard. Cut off the tips and cut the remainder of the stems into 2cm pieces and then cook in boiling, salted water for 4-5 minutes to almost cooked. Drain and set aside. Gently remove flakes of haddock from the skin and set aside.
3 A few minutes before the rice has fully cooked, fold the asparagus, chopped chervil and flakes of haddock into the risotto. Cook a further 2-3 minutes and then divide between warmed bowls. Serve with wedges of lemon.