Posts tagged ‘chestnuts’

January 3, 2012

Variations on a Theme | Caramelized Endive and Walnut Risotto

It might strike you as esoteric, caramelized endive.  But let me assure you that it is entirely devour-able, and not in the slightest way effete.

And the New Year is a perfect time to delve into comforting vegetarian dishes.  I just know you want to ease into your new-found resolve to eat more veggies, but dammit, it should taste good and be filling.

In this risotto, the endive is left to caramelize in a separate pan, given only a bit of olive oil, a garlic clove and salt to help it achieve its golden color.  Do this and you are rewarded with what looks a whole lot like oxtail and onions, only unabashedly vegetarian.  And simmering in another pot, a simple elixir of water, parsnips (crucial sweetness, in my opinion, to balance the bitterness of the endive), onion, bay and some seeds from the summer’s past garden (corriander in this case) round out the quick stock.

Combine it all and you have yet another version of one of my favorite things to cook for my family: risotto.  It is, after all, my lifetime dish.  One of those things I want to master perfectly before I die.  After all it is resolution season.

PK Tip: This dish is entirely versatile.  Sub kale and pecans for a thoroughly American take on the dish; radicchio and chestnuts for a U.K. variation.

Caramelized Endive and Toasted Walnut Risotto; serves two to three; inspired by this recipe in the Telegraph

For the stock:
1 very large parsnip, peeled and quartered length-wise

1 small onion, unpeeled and quartered

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January 11, 2011

Winter Kitchen | Roasted Chestnut Risotto with Mushrooms

When the snow is swirling outside and you feel like spending a bit of time in a warm kitchen stirring leisurely, risotto is your answer.

I have a deep love for risottos.   It is an endlessly versatile dish, perfectly at home in any season.  A stock, some aromatics, and a bit of rice transforms into a bowl of comfort.

I have taken risotto on as the meal I would most like to perfect in my life.  Ultimately, I want mine to be able to stand up next to any Italian nonna’s.  Lofty dream, I know.   But it’s a life project.

One of the things that makes me almost endlessly sad is to see recipes for “risotto” that include copious amounts of butter or oil or cream.  Risotto should not be a excessively fatty dish.  It is, as I said, essentially stock and rice.  You add at the end a bit of Parmesan if you like, or alternately, depending on the combination of ingredients, a heaping tablespoon (at most) of perhaps some marscapone cheese (across four servings) .  The creaminess of the dish is almost entirely derived from the grains of rice giving up their starch.

Today’s risotto was a combination of roasted and chopped chestnuts, dried and fresh mushrooms and a lamb stock.  This happy combination was again facilitated by The Flavor Thesaurus.   I had lamb bones in the freezer from a roasted lamb shoulder, so it was easy to toss everything in a pot to simmer a stock in the afternoon.  A bit later on, I set a metal sieve over the pot and soaked some dried chanterelles to rehydrate them and add a further bit of meatiness to the stock.

When it was time for dinner, I sauteed some fresh mushrooms (a combination of oyster, portabella, and cremini) along with the rehydrated chanterelles that I chopped in a very hot pan with some olive oil and salt and pepper, almost like duxelles.  When these were brown, I put them in a bowl for later.  I added a sliced shallot to the pan, reduced the heat to medium and soften it a bit.  Then I added about a cup and a half of rice, cooked it for a minute then deglazed the pan with vermouth.  The rest of the cooking is almost identical to the recipes here and here.  I added in the mushrooms just before the last addition of the lamb stock to rewarm them.  PK tip:  Make sure you add a generous extra ladle full or two of stock just before serving.  You want it almost a bit too loose.  It sets up so quickly as you get it to the table and you want it to be spoon-able, not stiff.  The plate was garnished with a bit of thyme (lots in the stock) and grated Parmesan.

Playlist included Writing to Reach You, by Travis.

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