Monday, November 26, 2012

Winter Risotto.

Admittedly, I am feeling a few pounds heavier and a tad bit dehydrated after this Thanksgiving Holiday, but altogether it has been an amazing past 5 days for us.  The hubbs and I were able to divide our time between family, both in Sacramento and Napa, and were also able to savor a few quiet evenings to ourselves after the hustle and bustle of turkey day festivities.  As December first sneaks up, I'm pretty much ready to roll into hyperdrive when it comes to travelling and eating as much as humanly possible before the turn of the year.  Hey- just because you just stuffed yourself silly with mashed potatoes, cornbread, olives, yams, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie doesn't mean there's any reason to slow down.  Winter is the time for hibernation, hearty foods and warm, rich recipes.  Therefore, I bring you... Risotto.

Risotto is normally a primo (first course), served on its own before the main course. In this house, we could easily eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's a favorite- an incredibly versatile one at that. Risotto is a class of Italian rice dishes cooked in broth to a creamy consistency with the broth being meat-, fish-, or vegetable-based. Many types of risotto contain Parmesan cheese, butter, and onion. It is one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy, full of flavor but relatively easy to prepare.

I tend to use Arborio rice for my risotto, but there are also the Baldo, Carnaroli, Maratelli, Padano, Roma, and Vialone Nano varieties of rice that are commonly used. Carnaroli, Maratelli and Vialone Nano are considered to be the best (and most expensive) varieties, with different users preferring one over the other. I love the taste and texture of the simple, creamy Arborio rice grain-- as an added benefit, it's fairly easy variety to find at your local grocery, sold pre-packaged or in bulk dry goods. 

Tonight I'll be serving our Risotto with pan-seared, farm-raised Norwegian Salmon Filet and crispy sauteed Haricot Jaunes.  The Arborio will indeed be complemented with white onion, chicken stock and Grana Padano Parmesan cheese, staying true to it's classic preparation.  Ok, ok, I may add a little white truffle oil and garlic as well (*winkwink*).

*Savory Winter Risotto*
5 cups chicken broth
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
1 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp chopped Italian Parsley
Shaved Parmesan cheese

Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Reduce heat to low; cover saucepan.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add onion; saute until very tender but not brown, about 15 minutes.  Increase heat to medium.  Add rice and stir 1 minute.  Add 1 1/2 cups warm broth.  Boil gently until broth is absorbed, stirring frequently.  Add another 1 cup broth; stir until broth is absorbed.  Add remaining 2 1/2 cups broth, 1/2 cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is tender and mixture is creamy, about 25 minutes.  Stir in 2 tbsp butter and 1 cup grated cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to bowl and sprinkle with parsley and shaved Parmesan.

Dig in and enjoy this delicious, classic Italian staple...


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