Monday, February 14, 2011

I Heart Risotto

After buzzing through some of my favorite food blogs, I see that I am once again in danger of having my food blog credentials revoked. I see all sorts of desserts, cutesy little V-Day stuff, declarations of affection, and an alarming number of marshmallows.


So, while I DO have a chocolate post to share, it really has very little to do with the holiday, which I’ve always found to be a bit… much. My firm stance on the subject is that if you need an official holiday to remember to tell the one(s) you care about THAT YOU CARE ABOUT THEM, then you need to do some reevaluating of your life, my friend. Hallmark will get along just fine without you.


Sometimes Sundays are a good excuse to go all out and spend hours putting together something for dinner. Our Sunday evenings tend to be spent at home with me sorting through coupons and Offspring working on the homework she has put off all weekend.

But since I had all sorts of fabulous leftovers from the previous night (can’t wait to share!), all I was really looking for was a side dish, and this one had been floating around in my head for a while. Really could have gone either way making this a side dish or a dessert with just some minor adjustments, but I opted for the savory version.

Just a word of warning… This is not a light-on-the-hips dish. There’s butter. There’s cheese. There’s more cheese. But it’s, well… just try it, ok?

Brandied Peach Risotto

1 carton (about 4 cups) low-sodium chicken broth (or use homemade)
1 small lemon
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs butter
1 shallot, chopped finely
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 ½ cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
¼ cup brandy
1 large peach (firm), cut into small wedges
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbs fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 pinch nutmeg
1 Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs mascarpone cheese
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Optional: garnish with toasted almonds and/or hazelnut oil

Pour the broth into a large saucepan and warm over medium heat. Cut lemon in half and add juice to broth. Toss in the lemon halves as well.

In a large sauté pan, heat butter and olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic and allow to sauté for a minute (don’t burn), then add the rice. Stir for a minute or two until rice is coated and has begun to take on a pearly sheen. Deglaze pan with brandy and stir until liquid has almost evaporated/reduced. Add a ladleful (about ½ cup) of the broth and stir the rice until the liquid is absorbed into the rice. Repeat. After about the fourth ladle, add the peach segments and season the rice with salt and pepper. Continue to stir, adding more broth as it is absorbed into the rice, until the rice takes on a creamy consistency. If you run out of broth, just add a ladle or two of water, or more broth. The rice should still maintain some firmness.

At this stage, add all of the remaining ingredients and stir until they are thoroughly combined. Serve immediately.

Makes about 6 servings.

**A note about seasoning: I usually season the rice about halfway through the cooking process and then taste it again at the end and adjust accordingly. The Parmesan will add a bit of saltiness, so you may or may not need to add additional salt.

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