As promised in my Thanksgiving post, here is the beet risotto that probably had people asking, “what is that red stuff on that plate?” This is actually a dish that I made for dinner a few weeks ago, and it was so good that I insisted on making it again for our big meal.
The great thing about this dish, and what makes it acceptable as a main course, is the fact that it’s probably more than half beet. So even though it’s got rice, chicken stock, goat cheese, parmesan and a little cream in it, I still put it in the Healthy and Vegetarian categories.
I’ve made risotto a few times on the blog (with artichoke hearts, with mushrooms) and the process is basically the same, except that you add four or five grated beets to your onions and spices that start as the base of the dish. The first time I made this risotto, I grated the beets by hand, which was a lot of work and a huge mess. My stove and countertop looked like a murder scene. For Thanksgiving, I grated the beets in a food processor, but it was a two-step process. If you’ve ever used the grating feature on a food processor, you know that it results in very long shreds of whatever you grate, so I threw the beets back into the food processor with the standard blade and pulsed them a few times. That chopped the beets into smaller pieces that were closer to rice-sized. In order to give risotto a creamy, consistent texture, you don’t want any of your additions to be too large or chunky; everything that goes into the dish should be a consistent size. For some people, texture can make or break a dish.
5 medium or 4 large red beets, grated
1 large onion, diced
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups Arborio or other short-grain rice
8 to 10 cups chicken or turkey stock
2 ounces goat cheese
1/3 cup heavy cream
Parmesan, to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
- Plan to use to burners on your stove for this dish. First, put chicken or turkey stock in a stock pot on a back burner and bring it to a low simmer. Keep heat on low. On the burner directly in front of it, in a very large sauté pan or heavy-bottomed pot (I used a dutch oven), melt butter into olive oil over medium heat. When butter is melted, add onions and season with salt and pepper. Season liberally since you’ll be adding many more ingredients to this pot. Fry onions until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
- Add beets to the onions. Cook vegetables, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, until beets are softened. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add rice to the vegetables and stir until it’s well-incorporated. Using a ladle, add about a cup and a half to two cups of stock to the main pot. Stir frequently as the mixture comes to a boil. My mom noted that I cook my risotto pretty hot; in my experience, it helps for the pot to be bubbling and you need to stir very frequently to keep the heat well-distributed through the whole mixture.
- As the risotto cooks, the vegetables will break down and the rice will absorb the liquid. When the mixture becomes thick and it seems like most of the liquid has disappeared, add another ladle or two of stock. Continue to stir very frequently so that the liquid and heat remains evenly distributed throughout the dish. Continue the stock-adding process when the mixture seems to need liquid for about 20-30 minutes. As you use more of the stock, the risotto will begin to look creamier in texture.
- Taste the risotto frequently, and when the rice is al dente, add the goat cheese and cream. Stir to incorporate and make sure that the cheese melts completely. Grate parmesan into the risotto and continue to taste; add salt and pepper if needed. Serve risotto garnished with more parmesan.
As a bonus, I made a vine of the risotto cooking so you can get a seven-second view of what this stuff looked like while cooking. I’m sure it will be incredibly helpful.