Sorry for the prolonged absence, ladies and gentleman. School is really kicking my ass right now, and it’s about to get worse. Having evening classes three days a week has really detracted from cooking new and fun things to share with you all. Zak has been a beast in the kitchen, making everything from his own spin on mujaddara to a whole grilled mackerel. Last night, after coming home in the freezing rain from grocery shopping, I just wanted to crack open a beer and do something in the kitchen. Risotto is perfect for those evenings – it takes a lot of attention, but it’s totally mindless attention. I pulled up the current chapter of (my second read through of) Game of Thrones, preheated the oven, put some stock on to simmer, and spent the next forty five minutes reading, stirring, ladling, and over all unwinding.
The pay off was huge. Comforting, creamy, flavorful risotto is the perfect fall or winter meal. It’s filling and can be gussied up with any vegetables or add-ins you choose. The caramelized broccoli worked beautifully with the sharp cheddar cheese and rich, unctuous homemade beef stock. It also reheats really well, either on the stove top (add a few extra tablespoons of stock or water) or in the microwave.
Mushroom and Roasted Broccoli Risotto
8 cups homemade beef stock
1 large sprig fresh tarragon
2 tbs. butter, divided
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup dry vermouth
1/4 cup milk
1 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
3 tbs. olive oil
1 head broccoli, chopped into florets, stalks discarded (about 2 cups florets)
Preheat oven to 400°.
In a medium stock pot, bring beef stock and tarragon sprig to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to low to maintain a simmer.
In a large, shallow sauté pan, melt 1 tbs. butter over medium heat. Add onion season with salt. Cook until translucent, stirring a couple times to ensure even cooking. Add mushroom and season with a bit more salt. Cook until slightly golden brown.
Using a wooden spoon, push all the vegetables to one side of the pan. Add arborio rice and toast 1-3 minutes until just starting to turn opaque. Mix together the vegetables and rice, and deglaze the pan with vermouth. Cook over medium heat until vermouth is mostly evaporated.
Add one ladle (about 3/4 cup) of beef stock. Stir vigorously. Stirring almost continuously, allowing thirty second breaks every now and again, until beef stock is mostly absorbed. Add another ladle of stock, and continue to stir.
On one of your short breaks in stirring in the first few rounds, toss broccoli florets with olive oil, salt, and pepper on a tinfoil lined baked sheet.
Transfer to oven and bake 20-25 minutes until cooked through and caramelized. If the risotto isn’t done, reduce oven to warm or lowest heat setting to keep warm.
Continue to repeat process of adding stock and stirring the risotto. The risotto should be expanding and starch should be coming off the grains, making the mixture seem creamy. After about 45 minutes, when risotto is creamy and last stock is almost totally absorbed, add remaining tbs. of butter. Stir to combine. Add milk and stir to combine. Stir continuously about one minute, until milk begins to evaporate. Let simmer untouched a minute or so before continuing to stir another minute or two. Once milk is about half evaporated, add cheese and stir to combine.
Serve in a bowl, topped with a handful of broccoli florets.