I still have beets in the fridge from back when they were coming all the time in the CSA. I really needed to use them quickly and I decided to make a risotto because it is one of Jasper's favorite dishes. The first time he ever had risotto was the first time I ever made it. It was in the early part of our relationship, when we were living on opposite coasts. I came out to visit him in his little apartment in Ballston, and I wanted to make a nice dinner for him. He couldn't get enough of that lemon risotto. Ever since then, he has ordered risotto constantly at restaurants, and black truffle risotto has replaced my lemon version as the favorite. It had been awhile since I had made risotto at home, so I decided it was time to treat him.
The first step is to roast the beets - it develops a deeper, richer flavor than boiling.
Cut the beets into matchsticks and saute with an onion in butter and olive oil.
Add some garlic, then add the rice and stir constantly for a minute to coat the grains in oil.
Add a cup of dry rose wine (the color matches the pinkness from the beets, *squee* girly moment!) and allow to cook off.
Add hot chicken broth, 1/2 cup at a time, waiting until it is mostly absorbed before adding the next bit. It is this slow addition of liquid and the frequent stirring that releases the starch in the rice and makes a true risotto. Some recipes may tell you to just put everything in at once and cook until the rice is done - do not listen to them!
In about 20 minutes, you should be out of chicken broth and the rice should be cooked. Test it by biting into a grain. It should be cooked through with just the tiniest amount of bite left in the middle - still firm, not mushy! Stir in butter and balsamic vinegar to finish.
In a traditional risotto, you would add Parmesan cheese. But I thought that goat cheese would go well with the beets and add to the creaminess of the risotto as well as give it a little tang. Verdict - scrumdiddlyumptious! (even though Jasper was a little bit nervous to try it because of the pink color)
Beet Risotto with Goat Cheese
3 medium beets, trimmed
6 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups Arborio rice)
1 cup dry rose or white wine
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp butter
1 cup goat cheese, crumbled
Heat oven to 450°F. Wrap beets tightly in foil and roast on a baking sheet until very tender, about an hour. Allow to cool about 20 minutes. When beets are cool enough to handle, peel them, discarding stems and root ends, then cut into matchsticks.
While beets are cooling, bring broth to a bare simmer in a saucepan. Keep warm on low heat, covered.
Melt butter with oil in a wide, heavy pot over moderate heat. Add onion and beets and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.
Add wine and simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup broth and simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is just tender and creamy-looking, 18 to 22 minutes. Reserve leftover broth.
Stir in balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add the 3 tbsp of butter a pat at a time, and remove from heat. Thin as necessary with some of leftover broth, then sprinkle with the goat cheese and stir in or don't - up to you.