Tuesday, December 28, 2010
You should have been here Sunday. We were still camped out at my parents' house following Christmas festivities. I spent the morning warning my family about impending snow. They spent the morning ignoring me. By mid afternoon I was dashing between the windows crying "BLEEEEEZZARD, BLEEEEEEZZARD" and singing "Let it Snow." Everyone else was looking at me like I was crazy, but I was in heaven. Sadly, all good blizzards must come to an end, and this one meant a drive home to Philly and parking in a lovely gray slush drift. The only way to stave off a post-blizzard mood crash is to have some comfort food for dinner, and this definitely worked. I found the recipe in my Christmas loot - Nigella Express.
adapted slightly from Nigella Express
1 T butter
1 leek, pale green and white parts only, minced and rinsed to be free of grit
1 1/2 C arborio rice
1/4 C dry vermouth
1/2 T dijon mustard
4-5 C veggie stock (Nigella said 4 C, I ended up using an extra C of water to make the risotto, because it wasn't soft enough with just the 4 C).
1 C grated cheddar cheese
4 pieces bacon (for garnish)
gluten-free note: Vermouth should be gf, but feel free to substitute white wine if you're more comfortable with that or even stock. Check your mustard labeling.
Put the butter and leek in a large pan with high sides. In a pot next to it, heat up the stock. Melt the butter and cook the leek 2-3 minutes until softened. Watch closely so it doesn't burn. Add the arborio rice and cook another 2 minutes or so, turning frequently so the rice gets coated in butter and toasts a bit. Then increase the heat and add the vermouth. Allow it to cook off, add the mustard. Add the warm stock about a ladleful at a time. Stir the risotto after you add the stock until it is mostly absorbed (I wait until I can pull a spoon through the risotto without having liquid fill up the track I've made). Then add another ladleful or two. Keep doing this until the stock is gone and the rice is soft (not mushy) but still has some texture. It should take about 18-20 minutes. Meanwhile, chop your bacon and toss it in a hot frying pan. Give it about five minutes to crisp up. Put on a paper towel to drain and set aside. When the risotto is soft enough, add the cheddar and stir. I used a nice sharp cheddar and was amazed at how cheesy the risotto tasted. I think the salt from the stock and the cheese worked beautifully together to sort of extend the cheese flavor. It was like macaroni and cheese, but with risotto not pasta. So tasty. I tossed the bacon on top and yum!