Sunday, February 24, 2013

Variation on a Theme

It's a month later and yet I have to confess to you, I'm still hung up on mixing cruciferous vegetables with cheese product.  I can't help it.  I've always loved cheesy comforting foods, particularly during the winter doldrums, but the addition of some nice healthy crunch is currently irresistible to me.  It keeps the cheese from becoming too rich (I know, I don't know what's wrong with me either).  So basically, rather than making anything new and fascinating, I'm just messing about with old favorites.

For this recipe, I started with the risotto and cheese I posted way back here.

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
2 T dijon mustard
4-5 C veggie stock (Watch this carefully, I needed slightly under 4 cups this time, over 4 last time).
1/2 C grated cheddar cheese
1/2 C grated colby jack cheese (yes, just a cup of whatever cheese makes you happy will work fine)
2-3 C broccoli
salt and pepper as needed

Chop your broccoli into bite sized pieces.  Then steam your broccoli and set it aside. We do ours stovetop in a steamer. I think it takes around 5 minutes, but don't quote me on that. 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. Add the mustard, this was sort of a mixing smearing process for me. 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. When the risotto is nearly done, add the cheese and stir. About a minute before you pull it off the stove, add the broccoli and mix well (but gently). Taste to see if it needs salt and pepper. It may not need salt depending on your chicken stock and your cheese, both of which can be salty.

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