A Glorious Risotto - In Theory

Picture courtesy of Susan Blaxhill

Firstly, can I just say that I haven't taken a Nintendo-related hiatus from blogging. I simply hadn't cooked anything worth writing about, whereas Paul loves to pontificate about his food. He thinks though that he may have driven people away with his lecturing and that he is better suited to sociological writing, rather than culinary. I told him that the two are intertwined and besides, there'd be a riot if he was to stop his always entertaining posts!

Secondly, I like colourful food, like Pauls’ stir-frys, but I rarely cook food that has much colour. It could be because I’m addicted to carbs, and most carbs are pale, as if to demonstrate how virtuous they are. Rice, potato, bread, pasta. All pale and interesting. I might add the odd splash of colour with some green beans or carrots but a tomato sauce is about as bright as my culinary spectrum goes.
That is, until last night. We are now in a state of financial crisis. The bank has cancelled our debit cards and all because we’re taking them to court for illegal bank fees. What this leads to is us utilising store cubpboard stuff from our fridge and cupboards and hence why last night I was planning on making a risotto. I’m a bit fed up with regular risotto as it seemed like it was our staple diet for so many weeks when we were moving house.
However, whilst flicking through my new favourite book, The Fish Store by Lindsay Bareham, I found an unusual recipe for Roast Beetroot Risotto. This seemed like it would be a mood enhancer if nothing else, and with some beetroot rapidly going bad in the fridge, I thought, why not?
The original recipe required the roasting of the beetroots in the oven, which does give them a wonderful sweet, nutty flavour. My beetroot was already cooked though so I just chopped it up, in a gloriously over the top display of vegetable brutality.
I love Beetroot. I have documented my use of the vegetable on this blog before, here and here. I adore its sweetness, the earthiness and the staining of my fingers. It is a much underused vegetable in Britain which is a shame. For a country that loves sweet vegetables (carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes), the Beetroot is woefully neglected, other than being served, pickled, with cheese in a sandwich.
This risotto varies from a ‘normal’ risotto, which is to say this one has a glass of red wine instead of white wine and it also has a good splash of Balsamic Vinegar. It has clotted cream stirred through it at the end and it sharpened up with some lemon juice.
Of course, I didn’t have Clotted Cream so I used up some Creme Fraiche, which seems to last forever in the fridge, and I grated some Parmesan which was stirred through as a final flourish.
As for the final taste test? Well, it had a great deal more depth than a regular risotto bianco. This can be alluded to the addition of the red wine and the rich, sticky Balsamic Vinegar. The lemon juice is a perfect foil against the rich creamy rice.
Colourwise, it wasn’t the vivid Warhol-esque cerise that I had visions of. By the time the extra cream and butter and parmesan were added, it had become a sort of coral colour. Very pretty nonetheless and the flavour was pretty sensational.

4 Beetroot, roasted (wrapped in foil, unpeeled and baked for 30 minutes at about 200c)
4 Large Tomatoes, halved, depipped and roasted at the same time as the beetroot.
40g Butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
200g Risotto Rice, I used Arborio because that was all I had
3 Shallots, finely chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
Half a Glass Red Wine (I used up the dregs of my Rioja)
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1.5 Litres Chicken Stock, hot
Salt, pepper
Lemon Juice
50g Creme Fraiche
Parmesan (optional)
Remove the roasted beetroot and tomato from the oven. Remove the skins from both and chop roughly. Leave to one side.
In a saute pan, gently heat the olive oil and half the butter.
Soften the shallots and garlic in the oil until fragrant. Do not allow to brown.
Toss in the risotto rice and coat well in the onion/butter mixture.
Turn the heat up and pour over the red wine and balsamic vinegar.
Once the rice has absorbed the wine/vinegar, stir in the chopped beetroot and tomatoes.
Pour over the chicken stock, a ladle at a time, not putting more stock in until the last ladleful has been absorbed.
When the rice is starting to get creamy you can start to add a little more.
Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to watch over the rice like a newborn child, it won't stick or do anything extraordinarily horrible. It basically cooks itself. You just nourish it with the stock.
Once it has reached the texture you like, it should be slightly al dente, stir in the rest of the butter and the creme fraiche. Also sprinkle over a good pinchful of salt. The beetroot is very sweet and benefits greatly from sea salt.
Cover and leave for five minutes.
Taste the risotto, add a squeeze of lemon and taste again. I grated some Parmesan over mine because I felt it needed it. This is entirely optional.
Serve immediately.


Kelly-Jane said...

Hi Freya

Your risotto looks great, I like the colourfulness of it too.

The Fish Store is a good book, I read last year. Lindsey is a very evocatve writer, and makes you want to cook her recipes. Have you made anything else from it? I tried a chicken salad (pretty sure it had beetroot in it as well!).


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

If the flavor is good a cooling of the color is A-OK! It sounds and looks super yummy.
Tell Paul he must keep writing! Enjoy you both!!

Joyce said...

Nice bowl of great food! I love risotto with a twist. Now you brought to mind an old favorite, risotto with red wine,crumbled Italian sausage and slivered spinach. Great combo.
Roasted beets are a favorite here, too. Especially with goat cheese and bitter greens.

Sarah said...

Hi Freya!

I left a comment on your birthday (blog birthday, that it!). This risotta looks wonderful!!!

Keep us updated on everything...


Patricia Scarpin said...

Dear Freya,

your risotto looks delicious, I love, love, love the coral color!

I hope all your problems are solved soon.


amanda said...

This looks fantastic. I've been really wanting to try beet risotto, but unfortunately i can't get T to eat beets! i suppose i could just lie to him. :-P

Susan said...

Freya, you know I adore risotto, and I've never made it with beetroot. The creme fraiche must make it velvety smooth! Oh, it's just a delectable combination of flavors that I must try.

Kathryn said...

Mmm, the risotto looks great! I've eyed up The Fish Store... maybe I should allow myself it...

Sorry about the bank. I can't believe they need ALL your debit cards!!!

Kathryn x

sher said...

(Whimper.) Risotto. Beets. Boy, that looks fabulous.

I used to be an attorney and had clients who had to go up against banks. Hang in there. And that was really nasty of them to do that to you.

ros said...

I love the richness of red wine risotto but I haven't tried adding balsamic vinegar. I'll definitely try that out on the next one I make.

Sorry to hear about your banking problems. I hope things get sorted out soon!

Katie said...

Actually I'm heading down to the kitchen to make some risotto right now....Must try it with beetroot - it looks so pretty!
Bank problems suck!

Conrad said...
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