It’s been officially winter for exactly a month now, but it’s only the past couple of weeks that it’s really started to feel like it. And boy, has the weather more than made up for those weirdly warm December days.
Now that we’re bundled and layered and waiting for the impending 2 feet of snow (!!!!!) that may hit the East Coast this weekend and thinking that nothing sounds better than a toasty night in, beset by blankets and sweatshirts and soft woolen socks, glass of wine/scotch in hand, fire/candles going, some great movie playing, and something delicious and warming to eat…
It’s comfort food season.
Creamy, warm, and satisfying. Nothing sounds quite so good as those words on a bitingly cold January night. And as far as those three words are concerned, one dish is king: risotto.
This Northern Italian rice dish is just about as comforting as it gets. It’s like a hot, cozy blanket for your tummy. But way more delicious. And what’s more, the rumors you’ve heard aren’t even true: risotto is extremely easy to make. If you can stir and give a little attention to a pot, you can make risotto.
Like pasta, you can add anything you like to risotto. We often make a sun-dried tomato and fontina risotto for Christmas Eve. In the spring, we love to toss in fresh peas and herbs and whatever cheese sounds especially good when we get to the store. You can even make sweet risotto for an Italian rice pudding.
But this month, we were craving something new and bright to add to these wintry days. We found the perfect balance of comforting and fresh in this risotto: Radicchio, Lemon, and Buffalo Mozzarella. Lemony brightness (it’s citrus season, friends), a hint of bitterness from the radicchio (we can’t get enough of this purpley leafy vegetable right now), and just the right amount of creaminess from the mozzarella (the buffalo variety is even creamier—and more traditional—than the cow’s milk version).
Give it a try. You won’t be disappointed. All you need is that glass of something good, those soft, cozy blankets, something to watch, and you’ve got yourself quite an evening ahead of you. Never mind the insanely blustery freeze going on outside.
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Risotto with Radicchio, Lemon + Buffalo Mozarella
Notes: When it’s done, risotto waits for no one, but with a couple of tips, yours will be perfect! Be sure to have all of your ingredients prepped and standing by before you begin. Don’t be tempted to rush the process. Can you walk away from the pot for a minute or two? Yep, but not more than that. And don’t let the pan dry out. Heat your plates before the rice has finished cooking. And one last thing: because the starches in the risotto will set up pretty quickly, we like to add just a tablespoon (not more) of hot broth to the bottom of each bowl before the rice is plated.
– A wide shallow pan—a 12-inch sauté pan or a dutch oven will work, too
– Large saucepan
– 6–7 cups of stock (vegetable or chicken—your choice) brought to a simmer, then covered with the heat reduced to low (You’re going to reserve 1 cup of hot stock for finishing)
– 1 tbs butter + 1 additional tbs for finishing
– 1 tbs olive oil
– 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
– 1 1/2 cups of Arborio rice, or other short-grain rice
– 1/2 cup of dry white wine
– 3 cups of chopped radicchio—about half a head + a bit more for garnish
– zest of one lemon
– 1/4 lb buffalo milk mozzarella, cut into small pieces
– 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese + more for serving
– 1/3 cup of finely chopped parley + a bit more for garnish
– handful of basil (cut into ribbons when the risotto is nearly done)
– black pepper, salt
To make the risotto:
* Heat your wide, shallow pan over medium-low heat.
* Add 1 tbs of the butter and the olive oil. Stir to melt.
* Add the onion and sauté until soft.
* Add the rice and toast for about 4 minutes until the edges become translucent.
* Add the white wine and stir until the pan is almost dry.
* Add the radicchio and stir.
* Add the stock about half a cup at a time, stirring until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice.
* Repeat the process of adding stock and stirring for about 18 minutes to 20 minutes until the rice is al dente. You don’t want it to turn into mush—the grains should have a little bite to them.
* Taste the rice at 18 minutes to check if it’s done. If not, continue cooking, adding broth and stirring until it’s cooked but still has some chew to it.
* When the risotto is finished, it should be creamy and able to flow in a slow slide off your serving spoon, but it should not be soupy.
– As soon as the rice is cooked, remove it from the heat.
– Stir in 1/2 cup of the reserved stock and the remaining ingredients: 1 tbs butter, grated Parmesan, buffalo milk mozzarella, parsley, basil, and lemon zest, along with black pepper and salt, if needed.
Plate, garnish and serve immediately.
© 2015 Lee and Lou Cook. All rights reserved