Having said that, let me present to you the first of the lot which happens to be a cheat post. I have done nothing more than write this short introduction and do a spot of editing which hardly took five minutes so in blogging terms it is akin to zero effort!
I realized a few weeks ago that the last guest post my husband did for my blog was way back in December 2015. Gasp and double gasp!😮 Not one to sit quietly after such an unacceptable discovery, I told him that in order to make up for the extended absence from my blog (which was purely unintentional by the way) he had to bring his A-game. How thrilled am I that he managed to do just that with this post!
Handing over to your host for today. Adiós 🙋
Greetings readers! I'm back on this space after a long hiatus.
I have an popular savoury recipe for you today. As most of you are aware, Risotto is a northern Italian rice dish cooked in a broth to a creamy consistency. Most types of risotto contain butter, wine, and onion and the broth can be derived from meat, fish, or vegetables. This delicious rice dish represents the epitome of Italian home cooking and comfort food.
The rice is first cooked briefly in a soffritto of onion and butter or olive oil, to coat each grain in a film of fat, called tostatura; white or red wine is added and must be absorbed by the grains. When it has evaporated, then the heat is raised to medium high, and very hot stock is gradually added in small amounts, while the concoction is stirred gently, almost constantly: stirring loosens the starch molecules from the outside of the rice grains into the surrounding liquid, creating a smooth creamy-textured liquid. At that point, the pot is taken off the heat for the mantecatura (the point when diced cold butter is vigorously stirred in), to make the texture as creamy and smooth as possible. It may be removed from the heat a few minutes earlier and left to cook with its residual heat.
Properly cooked risotto is rich and creamy, but has some resistance or bite (al dente) and separate grains. The traditional texture is fairly fluid, or all'onda ("wavy, or flowing in waves"). It is served on flat dishes and should easily spread out but not have excess watery liquid around the perimeter. Risotto waits for no one. It is ready fresh off the stove and should be eaten immediately as it continues to cook in its own heat and can become too dry with the grains too soft.
Risotto is more of a technique than a dish. It has a reputation for being fussy and time-consuming and this isn’t without reason. Making risotto requires some experience and once you start the cooking process, it does require a fair bit of attention. Getting that perfect al dente texture of the rice and the right consistency can be tricky. But do all the required prep ahead of time and give it some TLC and it will give you more than your effort's worth on the dinner table. Practice makes perfect with this one!
I have been making risotto at home for a few years now and after several trials and tribulations, I've somewhat gotten the hang of it. I usually make mushroom and peas risotto or butternut squash and sage risotto but for this guest post, I have attempted something different. The recipe you see here is a roasted beetroot risotto which was inspired from a local Italian restaurant. The risotto turned out rich without being heavy, with al dente rice, a vibrant deep pink hue from the oven-roasted beets with a hint of thyme, a dollop of sour cream all adorned with shards of Parmesan and chunks of sweet roasted beets. The verdict was good enough to get it featured here!
The first time I made this dish, I crumbled goat's cheese over the risotto along with a dollop of sour cream. But I later felt that the goat's cheese was too overpowering and salty for the dish. The second time, I used only sour cream and felt it was perfect.
Keep in mind that if you are using store-bought stock, you don't need to add any salt to the risotto. The stock and Parmesan will lend all the salt you need. You may even run the risk of your risotto being salty. In such a situation the sour cream comes in very handy. So do not season without tasting first!
That's all from me for today. Till next time....
Roasted Beetroot Risotto
Preparation time: 1 hour; Cook time: 30 min
Total time: ~1.5 hour
Recipe category: Italian/Main Course
Recipe level: Intermediate
180gm arborio rice
900ml stock (homemade or store-bought; vegetable or chicken, your choice)
100ml white wine
2 small beetroots
3 tbsp butter
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
A few sprigs of thyme
5-6 garlic cloves
1. Cut beetroot into 2" cubes and place in a aluminum foil with the garlic cloves (with peel) and thyme sprigs. Sprinkle some salt and a generous amount of olive oil. Seal tightly and place in the oven at 200 deg C for 1 hour.
2. Once done, remove the thyme sprigs, squeeze the garlic out and transfer 3/4th of the beetroot cubes into a blender and purée with a bit of stock.
5. Drizzle some olive oil in a pan and sauté the onions and keep covered till they sweat (do not caramelize).
6. Add 1 tbsp of the butter into a pan and add the rice and stir in till the rice is coated with butter.
7. Add 4 ladles of the stock and bring to simmer on medium heat while stirring.
8. Continuously add the stock 2 ladlefuls at a time constantly stirring.
9. Keep testing the doneness of the rice by tasting at regular intervals.
10. When there are 2 ladles of stock left and the rice is slightly more than al dente, mix in the parmesan, beetroot purée and remaining 2 tbsp of butter.
11. Serve fresh off the stove garnished with freshly ground pepper, remaining beetroot cubes and a dollop of sour cream.
- Do all the prep and keep the ingredients ready before you start making the risotto
- When selecting wine for the risotto, the general rule is - if you don't want to drink it then don't use it
- If you are using store-bought stock, choose a low sodium option if available
- If your risotto becomes too salty, you can try placing one of two slices of potato in it to absorb the excess salt. After that, throw the slices away
- Serve the risotto immediately. The longer it stands, the more the starches will set and you'll lose the creamy silkiness
- Instead of serving heaping portions of risotto in a bowl, opt for moderate scoops on a warm, shallow or flat plate; the smaller servings will allow you to eat another course after the risotto, and the heated plate will help keep the rice warm for longer
Other guest posts on the blog:
Nigella's Ultimate Christmas Pudding
Quesadillas with Salsa & Guacamole
Vegetarian Baked Rice