Saturday, June 5, 2010

just a few days before we had finn, we celebrated our last valentine's day as a duo. you might remember the little chocolate cheescake tarts we enjoyed for dessert. but before that, we made and ate a meal of italian risotto and crab legs. having never made risotto, i left the stirring and watching to husband after i prepped the ingredients. we used a pretty basic recipe found here.

uploading images to picasa causes them to appear even more underexposed than they are...

fennel, onion, and pea risotto (adapted from new italian recipes)
1 c arborio rice
3 + 3 tbsp e.v. olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 large fennel bulb, white part chopped coarsely, plus a few pieces of greens
1 1/2 c peas
1/4 c fresh basil, finely chopped
1/2 c dry white wine (chardonnay, sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio)
6 c chicken stock
1/2 c pecorino romano cheese
2 tbsp butter
1/4 c fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 c grated parmigiano-reggiano

1. bring chicken stock to a slow simmer in a large sauce pan or soup pan, add in basil and fennel greens
2. in a large skillet, heat 3 tbsp olive oil to medium low, then add onions and fennel and cover
3. let the vegetables soften and release their juices for at least ten minutes then remove to a separate bowl
4. add the other 3 tbsp of olive oil to the same pan for 30 seconds, then add arborio rice, tossing in oil
5. add the onions and fennel back in
6. add white wine and let reduce by about 3/4
add a ladle or two of the barely simmering stock, stir a little, make sure risotto is completely covered with juices and simmer over low heat
8. when the liquid is absorbed and just below the top of the rice, add more stock
9. repeat these steps for about fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally
10. add peas and let simmer until liquid is reduce by half
11. test for tenderness; when rice reaches a "soft with a small bite" state, add cheese and butter and stir
12. allow to cook until almost all liquid is absorbed, then remove from heat

13. let the dish stand for about 5 minutes, then serve topped with a bit more grated parmigiano-reggiano and chopped parsley

and so we prepared the risotto and in the last few minutes, we steamed the crab legs. we don't, however, have a proper pot in which to steam and the result of our efforts was hilarious. once finished, they barely fit on the serving platter. the one thing we do have for crab legs are tiny little forks. we used knives rather than crackers and because i am a semi-professional crab leg eater, i can get large chunks of meat out in this fashion.

attack of the crab!

back to the risotto. fab.u.lous. the flavors were perfectly mellow, the herbs and vegetables cooked down and blended with the soft rice. and when you add cheese and butter to a slowly simmered dish, you simply cannot go wrong. we both ate large portions for dinner (mixed with warm crab meat) and were able to have fancy leftovers the next day.

i thought risotto was time consuming with constant stirring and lots of effort, but i was wrong. i can't wait to try more! i recently had lobster risotto at a local italian restaurant and can imagine myself making that in the future...and there are plenty of other flavors to test out :)


Anonymous said...

That recipe is lovely, although I spilled some on my oven while making it. I mananged to get it cleaned with Oven Cleaner though.