Sunday, November 21, 2010

Carrot Risotto

A challenge taken to the next level may qualify as an obsession, but none have enjoyed the fruits of their labor more than hungry college kids. With Arborio rice rounding out to about $3.25 a pound, we have selected the vegetable additions carefully so we do not waste a morsel. But honestly, how often does a risotto go to waste? This time around we chose carrots, inspired by the most recent episode of Iron Chef, Battle Carrot.
Mushroom Risotto is often the first thing people rattle off when asked about risotto. With a rustic combination of wine and mushrooms, it entices even the staunchest opposition. It always has my mouth watering, although I have been disappointed in the grayish color it takes on the plate. Even a garnish couldn’t rescue it from its storm-cloud appearance. It needed a punch of color.
Teeny, vibrant orange chunks of carrot and a carrot puree gave the entire dish a warm, orange hue; specks of fresh parsley added more than just a contrasting color. Caramelized in a fatty mixture of butter and oil, the carrots melted in your mouth like soft, sweetened snowflakes. Shredded Parmesan cheese tightly hugged each piece of risotto rice, even as the broth swam in between. Every heaping spoonful coated my mouth with a creamy cover, carrots giving me a sweet kiss at the end. In just a few bites, you are full. It’s both the beauty and the cruel joke of risotto. It demands you to save some for lunch tomorrow, even if your eyes tell you to gobble it all up now.
Carrot Risotto
2 T vegetable oil, divide
3 T butter, divided
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped very finely and evenly [about 2-3 cups]
1 t salt
1 t sugar
1 t pepper
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
¼ cup minced onion
1 ½ cup Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup Parmesan and Asiago Cheeses
2 T butter
3 T fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 T fresh thyme, chopped
1. Heat 1 T and 1 T butter over medium heat in medium sized pot.
2. Add carrots and stir until well coated. Add ½ cup water, ½ t salt, and the sugar. Cover and cook 5 min, or until tender.
3. Uncover and cook, until water evaporates and carrots are just starting to brown, stir occasionally.
4. Reserve half the carrots. In a blender, puree the other half with ¾ c hot water.
5. Heat broth in another pot, keep at a simmer.
6. Heat remaining oil and butter over medium heat in same pot used for the carrots.
7. Add onion, cook until translucent, about 3 min.
8. Add rice, coat with butter and oil. Lightly brown.
9. Add wine and cook until wine evaporates, stirring.
10. Add carrot puree and cook until mixture no longer looks soupy, stir constantly.
11. Add ½ cup hot broth, stirring constantly, until rice absorbs most of the liquid. Repeat until rice is al dente [about 20 min; remaining broth: about 1 cup].
12. Fold in reserved carrots, cheeses, butter, parsley and thyme.
13. Add in broth to loosen the risotto. Season with salt and pepper.

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