Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Christmas Dinner Risotto

As Christmas 2007 slides off into the past, and a new year begins, it's time to clear out the fridge. A risotto (aka "goop" round these parts) is a good way to use things up, and is also very soothing on the delicate hungover stomach. Of course it's a two part operation, because you have to make the stock at least a day in advance. It's worth it - this is a real Christmas dinner: roast turkey with sage and onion stuffing, in a risotto form. A drizzle of cranberry sauce on top is fun to complete the gustatory illusion.

Prep Recipe: Turkey Stock
1 cooked turkey carcass, plus any skin and meat you can spare.
1 large onion
1 large carrot
2 bay leaves
a good handful each of sage, thyme, and rosemary
a dozen peppercorns
Cover carcass with water, bring to boil and skim scum. Add vegetables and herbs, reduce heat and simmer for 3-4 hours,topping up water if it seems necessary. Strain, and discard solids. Return stock to pan, and boil vigorously reduce to 3-4 cups. Pour into a narrow container and refrigerate, remove fat when cold.

Note: All the bones, plus the wings, from a large "buffe" piece will easily make 4 cups of rich jellied stock. Of course you could choose other vegetables or herbs; this is just what I had handy.

Recipe: Christmas Dinner Risotto
4 cups rich turkey stock
2 cups white wine
1 & 1/2 cups arborio rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium leeks
6 large shallots
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked turkey
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Heat up the stock with the wine. Clean leeks well, discarding coarse greens, but keeping the inner light green part as well as the white. Chop leeks and shallots finely. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and toss in leeks and shallots. Saute gently for a couple of minutes, then add rice and continue to cook for another two minutes, stirring constantly.

Add a half cup of the hot liquid, and keep stirring until the stock is absorbed. Repeat this, adding half a cup of hot liquid and stirring, until the rice is done - about 25 minutes. Taste a grain now and then towards the end to get the time right. Add the turkey, herbs, salt and pepper with the last half cup of stock. When all is done, stir though the parmesan and let it stand for a couple of minutes before serving.

Notes: Risotto is a lot less precious than you might think from reading recipes. You can actually step away from the stove for a couple of minutes to grate some cheese, chop some herbs, or whatever. It is, however, absolutely essential to have a good rich stock; risotto turns out delicious or nasty depending almost entirely on this one factor.

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