Sunday, March 22, 2009

caramelized carrot risotto

Risotto is one of my new favorite things. I made it the first time two weeks ago (squash risotto) and was immediately hooked. I had no idea that rice could turn into something so creamy and delicious. Last week, two beautiful bunches of carrots came in the Google CSA delivery. When I was considering what to do with them, it struck me that a roasted carrots have a texture very similar to a roasted squash, which meant that my squash risotto recipe could probably be tweaked to become a carrot risotto recipe. A quick internet search showed that I'm not the first person to think of this. 

Once I've decided what I'm going to make, I often browse my cookbooks and the internet. I take the parts that sound best to me from various recipes and mash them together. I've found that odds are, if I like the ingredients separately, I'll like them together in a dish. In this case, I started with the squash risotto recipe. Consultation of carrot risotto recipes I found online sparked the idea to caramelize the carrots and have the main herb in the dish be parsley (rather than sage as in the squash version). 

I had a lot of vegetables on hand (including a whole lot of celery - a bunch had come in each of the two CSAs we get weekly veggies from and JR had also picked up a bunch from the grocery for a green dipping item with our St. Patrick's Day tomatillo salsa verde - yes, that adds up to 3 bunches of celery!). So I decided to make the stock that would be used in the risotto. I went a little heavier on the carrots and parsley than I normally would in the stock to help reinforce the main flavors of the dish.

Here's what I did:

Caramelized Carrot Risotto
Serves 4

olive oil
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
10 medium to small fresh carrots, peeled and chopped finely and evenly
1 Tbsp. muscavado sugar (you can substitute brown sugar)
1/2 tsp. salt
5 cups hot veggie stock
1/3 cup onion, minced
1 1/4 c. aborio rice
1/2 c. white wine
1/4 c. marscapone
1/4 c. parmesan, freshly grated
1 Tbsp. flat leaf parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish
1 tsp. chopped thyme
1/8 tsp. white pepper

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots and stir to coat. Add 1/2 cup water, sugar, and salt. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until water is fully absorbed and carrots begin to brown. Divide carrots in half - set one half aside. Add the other half to a blender with 3/4 cups hot water and puree. Set aside.

Heat remaining oil and butter over medium heat in the same pan you used to cook the carrots. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add rice and stir to coat. Add white wine and cook, stirring until it is completely soaked in. Add the carrot puree and continue to cook, stirring until the mixture is no longer soupy.

Add a ladle of hot stock. Continue to cook, stirring often, until liquid is absorbed. Repeat this process, adding a ladle at a time and making sure each addition is completely absorbed before adding the next. Continue this process until about 1 cup of the stock remains.

Fold in reserved carrots (save 2 Tbsp. for garnish), marscapone, parmesan, parsley (save 1 Tbsp. for garnish), and thyme. Add remaining broth (1 ladle at a time). Finish with a sprinkling of salt and white pepper.

Top each serving with reserved carrots and parsley.

The next time I make this, I'm going to try roasting the carrots rather than caramelizing them on the stovetop. I think this will result in a stronger and sweeter carrot flavor (and will eliminate the need to add sugar). This risotto was also too cheesy for my taste. Next time, I will omit the parmesan and serve the marscapone on the side (as I did with the squash risotto - I liked it partially mixed in so that each bite had a different ratio of marscapone to risotto).

Let me know what you think!

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