Spring has forsaken us for a moment here in Ohio. The 40’s are not really doing it for me. Yes, I remember it’s still February. But I long for barefoot weather. I crave a muddy, just-pulled summer carrot and the sight of my coriander having, once again, gone to seed before I can get a decent couple of salsas out of it. I yearn for warmth.
In absence of warm outdoors, I made some sunshine in the kitchen with this sweet, herby risotto. You can take your time with the stock, as it says in the recipe, or you can certainly make a quick and dirty one, starting it only a few minutes before you start the risotto (no whole onion, cloves, juniper berries required).
I will be making this one again, late this summer, with carrots from my garden that is yet to be planted, and the new cilantro plants that will spring unassisted from coriander seeds that found their way into the cracks around my patio. I will stretch out barefoot on the grass and be content with the warmth.
Carrot and Coriander Risotto
1 bunch of carrots with tops
1 medium onion
Small handful parsley
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
4 or 5 juniper berries
1 t whole coriander seeds
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 t dried ground coriander
1 pound arborio rice
1/3 c vermouth or white wine
4 oz creme fraiche
Parmesean cheese for serving
In a large pot place washed carrot tops, three peeled carrots, the onion peeled and halved lengthwise, each side studded with a clove, a small handful of parsley cut in half, thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns, juniper berries (if using, you can leave them out if you don’t have them) and the whole coriander. Cover with 10 to 12 cold cups of water. Let this come up to just below a simmer and cook for 30 to 45 minutes. Lift out the vegetables, reserving the carrots, drain the stock. Add a bit of salt to taste. Return to the rinsed pot and keep hot on a back burner.
Take the reserved carrots from the stock and puree in a food processor with a splash of the warm vegetable stock and a pinch of salt. Finely dice the remaining uncooked carrots, and combine with the minced shallots in a pan over medium high heat with the butter and olive oil. After cooking for four or five minutes to caramelize a bit, add in the carrot puree and the ground coriander. Cook for a few more minutes to cook out the liquid in the carrot puree. Add the rice and cook for three or four minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Deglaze with the vermouth or wine and cook until evaporated.
Reduce heat to medium and begin adding vegetable stock a ladleful or two at a time stirring constantly until each addition is mostly absorbed, but not dry. This should take 30 minutes or so with a lot of stirring. If you find you’re running low on stock and you’re getting to the end and your rice is still a bit bitey, add some hot water into the stock pot.
I find that when the risotto is just about done, a big addition (a cup at least) of stock to get it really creamy is helpful. You want it to be just a bit runnier than you think it needs to be because as it cools it thickens considerably. Turn off the heat, stir in the creme fraiche and a bit of chopped parsley, if you like. Check for seasoning. Ladle into warmed bowls, garnish with a bit of Parmesan, a twist of black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
With great hesitancy, due to the band name, tonight’s playlist included Stutter, by Yuck.