Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Carrot Risotto

This rich lactose-free vegetarian risotto is adapted by Chow from a recipe made by Amanda Cohen, chef and owner of Dirt Candy. It was so very good, but quite labor-intensive. I do question the necessity of making my own vegetable broth here. Of course, it does give it a touch that store-bought broth can’t quite capture, but it adds a lot of extra peeling, chopping and simmering time to a long recipe, and I feel it wastes a lot of vegetables because they don’t actually get eaten after that. I did love the addition of carrot purée, and I appreciate that the water used to boil those carrots got recycled in the broth, but I think next time I’ll just add store-bought broth instead of making my own.

On a side note, I’ve complained for years that celery is only sold in big bunches and that I usually can’t use up all the stalks before they go bad. Well, Central Market had the brilliant idea of selling celery by the stalk! So I was able to buy just a few for my recipe, without wasting anything or paying for things I didn’t need. As if I didn’t love Central Market enough already… If you’re not making your own vegetable broth, buy 1 ½ lbs of carrots instead of the full 3 lbs.

In the pictures, the risotto is served alongside beef and shallot stew.

For the carrot purée
10 cups water
1 Tbsp kosher salt
12 oz carrots (about 4 to 5 medium), peeled and cut into ½-inch dice

For the broth (if not using about 8 cups of store-bought vegetable broth)
1 ½ lbs carrots, cut into large chunks
1 medium celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
3 medium garlic cloves, smashed
1 fresh thyme sprig
1 bay leaf

For the risotto
¼ cup olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups short-grain rice, such as Arborio or Carnaroli
½ cup dry white wine
12 oz carrots (about 4 to 5 medium), peeled and shredded on the large holes of a box grater
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (grated on the small holes of a box grater), plus more for serving
3 Tbsp unsalted butter or margarine
1 to 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the carrot purée
Place water in a large saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Stir in salt. Add carrots and boil them until just tender, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer carrots to a blender or food processor. (Reserve the water in the saucepan for the broth.) Blend carrots with ¾ cup of the hot water from the saucepan until smooth, adding additional water 1 Tbsp at a time if the purée is too thick. (You should have about 1 ½ cups.) Set aside.

For the broth
Place all ingredients in the reserved hot carrot-cooking water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until a light carrot flavor develops, about 30 minutes. Strain into another large saucepan and discard the solids. Keep the broth at a bare simmer over low heat while you prepare the risotto.

For the risotto
In a large straight-sided pan, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme and season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the rice and 1 tsp kosher salt and cook, stirring constantly, until the rice starts to crackle, about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until the wine has evaporated, about 1 minute more. Add the grated carrots and cook, stirring, until the carrot strips start to wilt, about 45 seconds.

Add about 2/3 cup of the warm broth and cook, stirring frequently, until the rice has almost completely absorbed it. Continue adding broth, 2/3 cup at a time, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. (Do not let the pan get dry—there should be a veil of stock over the rice at all times.) Stir in the reserved carrot purée and season with salt and pepper. When almost all of the liquid from the purée has been absorbed, add more broth, a little at a time, and taste regularly, until the rice is tender but firm to the bite, about 10 to 15 minutes more.

When the risotto is done, stir in the Parmesan and butter. Season with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

Just before serving, add a little of any remaining broth to loosen the risotto. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper, or lemon juice. Serve warm with more Parmesan.


Anonymous said...

We have the same problem with celery. We buy a bag and it sits, unused, in the fridge until it gets soft and thrown out. Jen has started making more soups recently, so that is less likely to continue, but it would still be much better to be able to buy celery by the stalk.

Amélie said...

I know! It's a wonder that producers haven't started genetically engineering celery to make smaller bunches, and that most grocery stores are not following Central Market's lead! I guess the only explanation is that celery is not very expensive as it is...

I used to have the same problem with fresh parsley, but my sister gave me a good tip: just wash all the parsley, chop up the leaves, and put them in a Ziploc bag in your freezer. It keeps for a very long time like that, and can be used in any recipe as if it were fresh - plus, it cuts down on prep time once you have a bag ready. :)

Anonymous said...

Really? How long can parsley keep like that?
Also, have you ever tried the same thing with cilantro?

Amélie said...

I'm not sure about the time limit, but I'd guess a few months. And as a matter of fact, I do have a bag of cilantro in the freezer as well. It seems to be working a little less well, but I think it's because I chopped the pieces a little bigger. Perhaps I should have used the food processor for that, it's what my sister recommends.