Preheat oven to 200°C.
Lightly oil and season the capsicums with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes until the skins are nicely caramelised and blistered.
While the capsicums are roasting, peel the onion and thinly slice. Using a heavy-based pot on a medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with the butter and oil until translucent.
Remove capsicums from oven and de-seed, retaining all liquids. Roughly chop up the capsicums into quarters. Place the flesh and juice into the pot with the onions and garlic and cook out until all liquid has evaporated.
Blend capsicum and onion mix until smooth. Place in a container and set aside.
Black Garlic Puree
Peel skin off black garlic. Blend all ingredients until smooth. Check for seasoning and adjust to taste.
Crispy Eschallot Chips
If you have a small deep fryer set the fryer to 130°C, otherwise use vegetable oil in a deep pot on a medium heat. A thermometer is useful here to ensure crisps aren’t burned!
With a mandolin, thinly slice the eschallot through the face. Fry slices in the oil until golden brown (this will take a few minutes). Drain on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
Finely brunoise the onion. In a heavy-based medium sized pot, saute off the onion with the oil until translucent and soft. While the onion is cooking, heat the wine up in another small pan. When it starts to simmer, turn off and set aside.
Add the rice to the onion pot, turn the heat to high and continually stir. Once the rice is so hot you can not touch it, add the wine. Once the wine has evaporated, add two ladles of hot stock and turn down heat to medium to low. Add a generous pinch of salt.
Do not stir the risotto – instead, shake the pot to move the stock and rice.
Once that first lot of stock has been absorbed add another one and keep repeating this process until the rice grain has cooked enough. It should be firm to the tooth when you bite it (al dente). It will take about 15-18 minutes.
Add the capsicum puree that you set aside earlier and return to heat. You can stir the rice and puree now using a wooden spoon.
Once hot, add the butter, and shake the risotto repeatedly in the pot. This emulsifies the butter, and stretches the starch in the rice. Continue shaking whilst adding the cheese. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Divide between plates and garnish with toasted pine nuts, crispy eschallot chips, basil, Meredith marinated feta cheese and black garlic puree. Buon Appetito!
Chef’s tips: Risotto is all about texture. Don’t stir the risotto when adding stock, wait until you add the puree. This prevents overworking of the starches – basically knocking starch out of the rice grains and creating a stodgy risotto. The risotto should be quite dry before adding the puree, butter and cheese. This step adds moisture, and should create a ‘wet’ risotto which moves like a wave (al’onda) when shaken.