When we caught up with Katie Cordle a few weeks ago to interview her for our Producer Profile article, we had a wonderful chat about the many culinary uses for her delicious fresh sheep's milk products. For the creative cook there are boundless possibilities. We were fizzing with ideas as we spoke, from grating Herefordshire Frier into filling for tortellini, to draining her yoghurt to make labneh to sweetening the sheep's curd and serving with homemade biscuits and poached fruit as a sort of deconstructed cheesecake dessert.
Herefordshire Frier, with it's moreish milky, salty flavour and supple stretchy texture is especially dynamic to cook with. This recipe was sent to us by Katie as we edited the previous blog. She made it, inspired by a lovely pizzeria that she supplies called Daphne’s in Presteigne, who made a pizza topped with leeks and Frier.
Regular Neal's Yard Dairy customers may know of our wonderful communal lunch cooking tradition in our offices and maturing space in Bermondsey and so it seemed like the perfect environment to give Katie's recipe a try. Excellent cheese maturing/packing/selling fuel this dish proved to be too! Comfort food at its best.
Ratios are personal - more spelt, more vegetables… up to you!
Spelt Grains (Katie used Pearled Spelt from Sharpham Park, we used wholegrain spelt, as this was what we could find in our local corner shop. If you can't find spelt grains, pearled barley makes a good substitute. As a rough guide, we guesstimated about 50g of spelt per person)
Butter/olive oil for frying
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
We added fresh thyme, vegetable stock and some white wine to the spelt whilst cooking, as we had these to hand.
We also roasted off several peeled butternut squashes cut into generous chunks, with heads of garlic, thyme, olive oil and salt. We topped our risotto with these.
Katie topped her risotto with a large mound of mibuna, mustard leaves, and rocket that a kind neighbour had given her, drizzled with some Brindisa Arbequina Olive Oil
The real cheese fiends among us also added a little grated Coolea to the risotto for extra melted cheese goodness.
Gently fry off the leeks and mushrooms in some butter or olive oil until tender without browning.
At the same time cook your spelt. A ratio of one part spelt to three parts hot liquid is a good start. Add a splash more hot water if it seems to be drying out. Pearled spelt cooks more quickly, and will need approx 20 mins. Whole grain spelt needs about an hour. We cooked ours for much longer, stirring and adding more liquid throughout. This helps to create the silky risotto texture. Season to taste as you go.
Once you are happy with your spelt texture, add the cooked leeks and mushrooms. Let it cook for a while so the flavours come together. Put to one side and keep warm.
Cut the Herefordshire Frier up relatively small so you can scatter it like a topping. It's a good idea to pat it with some kitchen paper or a clean tea towel so that it is dry hitting the pan. Fry the Herefordshire Frier (no oil) in a hot, non-stick frying pan (we used the same pan used for the leek and mushroom mix, adds flavour and keeps washing up to a minimum!). You want it to be golden and crispy on the outside.
Plate up the risotto, add your desired vegetable toppings, sprinkle a few pieces of crispy golden Herefordshire Frier and give a generous grind of black pepper over the entire plate. Delicious!