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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Baby Artichoke Risotto

I think I've mentioned before that I find risotto is usually not worth the effort. My results taste good but the process is so labour intensive, the results should be phenomenal.  They usually aren't.  But still I keep trying to perfect risotto.

This recipe is very tasty and makes good use of fresh, seasonal vegetables.  The process isn't really that arduous, but I don't know if I'd go through it all again.  What am I saying?  Of course I will.  I'm sure you'll see some autumn vegetable risotto again in a few months when I forget what a pain in the butt this is.  

You'll need baby artichokes, Arborio rice, asparagus, wine, chicken broth, lemon, shallots, parsley, butter and Parmigiano Reggiano.  

I found these lovely baby artichokes at our local market.

Artichokes are something else that's a lot of effort for a not-always-spectacular payoff.  
To avoid discolouration, you can prepare an acidic lemon-water bath for the artichokes.  I wouldn't bother with this step if I made this again.  The artichokes still turned a little brown and by the time they're cooked in the risotto the colour didn't matter.  

Remove the spiny, tough outer leaves from the artichokes.

And cut off the tip and a bit of the stem of each artichoke.

Then slice each artichoke in half... 

...and immediately plunge in the lemon water if using.

Repeat with all your artichokes.  You can see the discolouration despite the lemon water. It doesn't affect the taste so it's not really worth the trouble.  

Meanwhile, chop the shallots. I also chopped some garlic and onion to add more flavour.

Warm about 6 cups of chicken stock in a pot.

Melt what seems like an impossibly large amount of butter in a pan.

Then add the onions, garlic and shallots.

As they saute, dry the artichokes...

...then add them to the pan to brown.

Toss them with the shallots for a few minutes.

Then add 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice to the pan to toast for a few moments.
Mix the rice with the vegetables to coat each grain with butter.

Add 1/2 a cup of white wine to the pan and stir until it is absorbed.

Now it's time to start adding the warm stock.  Start with 1 1/2 cups.

Stir until the liquid is absorbed, then add a ladleful of stock every few minutes, stirring until each addition is absorbed.  

You can see how the liquid is absorbed when you run your spoon through the bottom of the pan and the rice stays separate for more than a few seconds.

Keep adding stock and letting it absorb for about 20 minutes until the rice is creamy and tender.

About 5 minutes before the last addition, add some chopped asparagus to the pan.

Add the remaining stock and simmer until it is absorbed.

Meanwhile grate the  Parmigiano Reggiano

Once the stock is all absorbed and the rice is creamy, add the cheese, some lemon zest and a bit more butter and stir through.

Serve the risotto with a bit more cheese on top if you wish.  You can also mix in fresh chopped parsley, which I forgot.

This meal is not light or easy but it is very tasty if you have the time and patience for a little more work in the kitchen than usual.  

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