Did you miss me? Well I missed you–its been a long time since I last posted, so I thought I’d come back with something bold and colorful: beet risotto. Even the beet skeptics will love this one given how rich, bright, and earthy this dish is.
But first, some important business. Yes, there’s no neglecting that Mike’s Table has gotten a little dusty these past few months and I apologize for that. This wasn’t due to a lack of interest–I’ve been cooking as much as before. The past several months have been a bit more hectic for me, one big reason being that I am in the midst of divorce (short version: she cheated). While a source of aggravation, I have been fine and that ordeal is but a small cloud lingering over the vast, clear sunny sky that is the rest of my life. I’ve been focused on myself and the many who truly matter in my life, like this beautiful little girl:
Sure, I probably won’t be posting at quite the same rate that I used to (Ramya keeps me busy!), but I just wanted to let you know that I’m not going away. Plus, after several months of not having a camera (important for a food blog–these photos don’t take themselves), I received a new camera for Christmas, so that obviously helps. 😉
Anyways, I’m back to serving up food for you, reader, and I hope that you’ll keep your seat at Mike’s Table. So onto the food…
You may have noticed that I love risotto and have cooked a number of varieties. I’d consider this particular rendition to be a bit lighter than other risottos I’ve made in the past as there is slightly less hard cheese in this compared to others. Don’t let this mislead you though–this is definitely enough for a very satisfying meal unto itself.
The star (in case the title and blood red color didn’t give it away): beets. The flavor of a beet is inherently mild–almost like a sweet, vegetal dirt, to make it sound appealing. I paired this with flavors which I think add interesting harmony and fullness to the flavor: Bay leaves, caraway seeds, anise seeds, rosemary, and fresh ginger. Mixed in with the starchy, creamy wonder that is risotto and thickened with a bit of tangy goat cheese, well, its rich and pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. If you’re a fan of beets, I don’t need to sell you on this–you’ll love it. If you’re not, try this dish–you’ll change your tune.
Also, this dish pairs quite nicely with a strong white wine (I’m thinking a medium/full-bodied New Zealand styled Sauvignon Blanc–nothing too oakey) or an honest Provencal rosé (my favorite). A wine that is crisp, has acid, and a clear but not overbearing structure.
- ~7 medium beets
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 1 red onion
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1 inch ginger
- 1/2-1 tsp caraway seeds
- 1/2 tsp anise seeds
- 1 rosemary stalk
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 6 cups chicken stock (simmer with 4 bay leaves)
- 1/2-3/4 cup parmigiano reggiano
- 1/4 lb goat cheese
- creme fraiche
- crumbled goat cheese
Start with your beets. Cut the leaves, rinse thoroughly in the sink, and set them aside for now. Discard the stems. Rubs the beets all over with a bit of oil, wrap in tin foil, and roast at 400°F for an hour.
When time is up, remove from the oven, open the tin foil a bit, and give the beets a few minutes to cool down. At this point, you should be able to rub them gently with your fingers and easily remove the skins. Throw the roasted beets in the food processor and give it a good whirl. Set this aside for now.
Before you do anything, have your chicken stock in a pot ready for your use. Keep it simmering with the Bay leaves in it for extra Bay flavor.
In a large pan, melt 2 Tbsp of the 3 Tbsp of butter. Dice up the onion and sauté until lightly browned, around 10 minutes.
Add in the finely minced garlic and ginger, sautéing for a minute further. Add in the caraway seeds, anise seeds, and rice. Stir constantly to prevent burning.
After a minute or two of sautéing, deglaze the pan with balsamic and wine, stirring over medium heat until the wine is almost completely absorbed by the rice. Add in the finely diced rosemary leaves.
This begins the usual risotto process: add ~1/4-1/2 cup of warm stock to the rice, stirring periodically, and once its all been absorbed, repeat. In total, this should take you somewhere around 20-30 minutes. Don’t let the rice stick or burn–keep working that pan.
When you estimate that you have 5-10 minutes left of cooking the risotto (you’ll know because your stock pot is quickly approaching empty), add the coarsely diced beet greens as well as the beet purée to the risotto. Give this a good stir to incorporate it well and the color of your risotto will go from blah to shockingly red.
Once you’ve used up the last of the stock, add the grated parmesan, the crumbled goat cheese, the remaining 1 Tbsp of butter, and give things a good stir to integrate. Season the dish to taste with salt and pepper.
You have a number of options for garnish. The one thing I’d consider the best option and a must if you have access to it: creme fraiche. The flavor pairs phenomenally with this dish–a small quenelle goes a long way. Other ideas: slivered sunchokes for crunch, crumbled goat cheese for added tang, snipped chives–whatever you choose, enjoy!