I've always been a little scared of risotto: it called for this fancy type of rice, you had to follow pretty precise instructions of adding the liquid a little bit at a time, waiting for the perfect moment when it was soft and creamy, carefully adding the vegetables and cheese, etc. It just seemed like a whole lotta' work for a side dish.
It's worth it. Boy howdy is it worth it. This particular one is has the perfect touch of sweetness and autumn flavor from the cinnamon, allspice, and apples, but also the harvest, Thanksgivingness of the vegetables, chicken broth, and herbs. It's really a great balance. Enjoy.
Autumn Risotto with Caramelized Apples
- 1-2 whole carrots, diced
- 1 cup frozen petite peas
- 2 leeks, white and light green parts, chopped (be sure to clean the leeks very well: dirt is almost always trapped in between the dark green layers)
- 2 quarts chicken broth
- butter, to coat pans
- olive oil, to coat pans
- 2-3 gala apples, peels left on, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 medium vidalia onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 cups arborio rice (yes, it has to be arborio)
- 1 teaspoon sage leaves
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 4 tablespoons butter
- salt and pepper
- 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus more to garnish
- asiago cheese shavings, to garnish
Bring the chicken broth to a boil, and then, one vegetable at a time, blanch the carrots, peas, and leeks for about 3-4 minutes each. Place the vegetables in ice water to stop the cooking process and keep the color very vibrant. Set aside.
Step 2: caramelize the apples
Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a flat-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the apples and brown sugar plus a pinch of salt. Stir for 4-5 minutes, until the apples are golden brown. Set aside.
Step 3: make the rice
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, and add the diced vidalia onion. Saute until the onion has a golden color. Add the garlic, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger and continue to cook a few more minutes.
Add the dry rice, and stir until coated. Add the sage, then stir for a few minutes until the mixture becomes somewhat milky. Add the apple juice, and stir until it is absorbed. Add 1 cup of the broth, stir until absorbed, then add 1 more cup, continuing until it is soft and creamy.
Stir in the butter, parsley, salt and pepper to taste, then add the vegetables and apples. Serve with asiago cheese shavings and parsely on top.