I throw the word “love” around a lot–with food. A few days ago, I loved soup. Before that, I loved dumplings. I love pickles and raspberries and yogurt and a whole host of other things. And today I am going sit here and tell you that I, honestly and truly, love risotto. I think one is allowed to have several (read: hundreds of) food loves. I don’t feel like my love for pickles is diluted by my love for soup. They are different, and there is room in my heart for everyone.
So let’s get back to last night’s dinner. I was supremely proud of myself for the Smoky Raddichio Risotto we had, for several reasons. 1) I managed to measure out exactly the right amount of both arborio rice and golden raisins from the bulk section in Whole Foods; 2) I did all my chopping and set up beforehand, which I never do, no matter how many people shout “mise en place” at me; and 3) I managed all of it in a kitchen this size:
No, you’re not missing any of it. The stove isn’t behind me. What is behind me is a bed and the door exiting my boyfriend’s very tiny apartment in Hartford. Like I’ve said, it’s a “efficiency” apartment. Try fitting a double hot plate and a cutting board and see if you have any room left on that counter. Indeed, “tiny” was the theme of the night:
Look, a baby wine bottle! (Not for babies) We’re not big white wine drinkers, so we didn’t want to have a bottle sitting around forever in the tiny fridge. The bottle was just perfectly 2/3 cup, so everything worked out.
This head of radicchio was also tiny, about the size of my fist and brilliantly purple (apologies for the quality of photos here, as you saw…there was just a (tiny) fluorescent light in the kitchen). I like brightly colored foods…when they are naturally so. It makes me feel like they have more vitamins.
So, let’s talk about the risotto. Firstly, the lovely purple color sadly cooks away…but so does most of the radicchio’s bitterness. What’s left isn’t an issue really because of the plump bursts of golden raisins (don’t even think about leaving them out…I know you were). They are perfect balanced with the insane goodness of the smoked mozzarella cheese. We used some from Maplebrook Farm in Bennington, VT. It was completely fabulous, and the half that wasn’t chopped and added to the risotto we ate plain with tomatoes. Seriously, get some smoked mozzarella today. It made this dish interesting and smoky and cheesy and totally wonderful. I am begging you to make this. You simply do not know what you are missing.
Now’s the part where I make you feel bad about being too lazy to make this in your grand regular-sized kitchen when I did so in the baby kitchen. Don’t be scared of risotto. You don’t really have to stir it constantly…just every once in a while for a few rounds. Risotto is a staple dinner round these parts…if you keep stocked up on arborio rice you can make some in a jiffy as long as you have some broth, an onion, and some white wine. Make it something you cook regularly. Add fun things! Mushrooms love risotto, as do beets and asparagus. But make this first…it will be all the convincing you need.
Smoky Radicchio Risotto “Michu”
from Gourmet, February 2009
1/2 cup golden raisins
3 cups chicken or veggie broth
3 cups water
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced radicchio (1 small head)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chopped smoked mozarella or Scamorza
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Cover raisins with warm water and let soak 15 minutes, then drain.
Bring broth and 3 cups water to a bare simmer in a small saucepan and keep at a bare simmer.
Cook onion with 1/4 tsp salt in oil in a 5-qt heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 7 minutes.
Stir in raisins, radicchio, and rice. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until absorbed, 1-2 minutes.
Stir in 1/2 cup of simmering broth and cook, stirring constantly and keeping at a strong simmer until absorbed.
Continue cooking and adding broth 1/2 cup at a time until rice is al dente and creamy, 18-20 minutes. Thin with some of the remaining broth if necessary.
Remove from heat. Stir in cheeses and salt & pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Look how cheesy it is (attempt #a million of about a trillion tries to get the cheesy strands):