Monday, January 10, 2005

Roasted Beet Risotto:Recipe

beet risotto
I love watching cooking shows on TV. Seeing someone cook is just a great way to learn. But even better is watching firsthand. I was very lucky to live with a family in Florence and learn to cook many classic Italian dishes by watching every move in the kitchen.

I don't think I really had proper risotto until I lived in Italy. In Italy we ate it all the time as a first course. Since I've been back I rarely order it in restaurants because I'd rather make it at home. Usually when I make it I serve it as a main dish with a salad. I've hesitated to give a recipe for risotto because you use all of your senses to cook it to perfection and there is only so much I can explain.

Beets are a vegetable I like cold better than hot, except that I adore beet soup and I think beets make one of the best risotto dishes ever. It might seem like an odd combination--beets and rice, but trust me, it's wonderful. If you've never had perfectly cooked risotto try to find a great place to try it so you get a feel for what the consistency should be. Like eating pasta "al dente" for the first itme, it is a revelation.

Roasted Beet Risotto
Serves 2 as a main course or 3-4 as a starter

Ingredients

2 beets
2 Tablespoons butter, divided
1 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cups white wine
3 or more cups of chicken stock or broth, heated but not boiling (canned chicken broth is fine)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Black pepper to taste

Instructions

Begin by washing the beets, wrapping them in foil and baking at 450 degrees until done, about an hour, but check them after 45 minutes. Let them cool then cut them into small cubes.

In a large saucepan heat a tablespoon of butter with the olive oil. Slowly cook the onion until it softens but does not brown. Toast the rice in it over low heat until the grains become opaque, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the wine and let it cook, when the wine is completely absorbed add the beets. Begin adding the warm chicken stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently. When it begins to completely absorb, but before the pan dries out, add more broth. Risotto takes almost exactly 18 minutes to cook, and you really should stir and watch and listen for the sound of the rice as the stock absorbs and evaporates.

When the rice is tender yet firm, neither mushy nor chewy, remove from the heat and add a splash more stock. Let it sit covered for just a minute, it should not be too dry. Risotto makes it's own "sauce". Add the last bit of butter and the grated parmesan, mix and serve seasoning with just a touch of black pepper at the table.

Enjoy!