If you’re still not sure how many people are going to make it, perhaps plan something that can be scaled up or down, or a dish that gives good leftovers. Something like this Christmas Eve risotto. You can make this for one or for 10, and if you end up being left with excess rice, pop it in the fridge and fry up some arancini tomorrow – they’d make a fantastic Christmas Day nibble.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
- 1 tbsp butter
- Olive oil, for frying
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 small fennel bulb, or half a large one, finely sliced
- 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 200g bomba rice
- 200ml white wine or dry sherry
- 500ml hot fish stock
- A generous pinch of saffron
- 1 lemon, juiced (+ extra wedges for serving)
- 2 good handfuls of mussels
- A few parsley sprigs
- Set a large casserole pan with a lid over a low-medium heat. Add the butter and a glug of oil. Once the butter has melted, add the onion along with a pinch of salt. Cook for five minutes, then add the fennel, garlic and fennel seeds. Cook for about another 10 minutes, or until everything is soft.
- Turn up the heat and add the rice. Cook for three minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the rice to turn translucent and start to brown a little at the edges.
- Pour in the wine and let it bubble up, stirring as the rice absorbs the liquid.
- Add a ladle of hot stock and turn the heat down low. Keep stirring, only adding more stock once the liquid has been absorbed.
- Meanwhile, mix the saffron with the lemon juice. At this point you might also want to debeard your mussels. Put them in a sink or large mixing bowl filled with cold water and pull off the little beardy bits.
- Once the rice is almost tender, add the saffron and lemon and some more salt.
- When the rice is cooked through and there’s still a good bit of sauciness in the pan, lay the mussels on top of the rice and put the lid on. Cook for about six minutes, or until all the mussels have opened.
- Scatter parsley over the pan and a drizzle of oil. Serve in warm bowls, and give everyone a lemon wedge.