Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Risotto with Orange Zest and Rosemary Oil - serves 4

Hello 2011.  After celebrating Christmas and enjoying a fabulous cruise to the Eastern Caribbean Islands, I believe I am ready to get this year started.  Of course, coming from wonderful temperatures ranging from 70 - 82, it's hard to handle this bitter cold we are suffering through in Texas.  It could be worse, we could be on the east coast.  But then again, the temperatures there, feel to us, like the temperature here.  Calling all comfort foods.....

Winter inspires me to cook warm comfort foods that well, make you want to wrap up in a blanket, sit on the couch, requires one utensil, one bowl/plate, fireplace roaring and The Bachelor.  Not that I ate this doing such a thing, but you know what I'm talking about.  Moving my traditional Thursday night girls night to Tuesdays for the month, I chose to try this dish from my recent Christmas gift, La Cucina Italiana magazine.  I love risotto of any kind and not to sound like a lush, it goes fabulously with the right kind of wine.  It's a simple dish to make and it's perfect to prepare as you sip wine and chat with a girlfriend and/or significant other, or The Bachelor.


2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
7 tbs of very good extra virgin olive oil
1 leafy sprig fresh rosemary
2 navel oranges
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese
1/4 tsp fine sea salt

Combine broth and water in a medium saucepan; heat to a very gentle simmer.
Meanwhile, combine 5 tablespoons oil and rosemary sprig in a small saucepan; heat over low heat until oil reaches a bare simmer, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes, then remove rosemary oil; reserve oil.  Remove and reserve leaves from toasted rosemary, discarding stem.
Finely grate zest from 1 orange; put zest in a small bowl or ramekin and cover with plastic wrap.
From the remaining orange, using a sharp pairing knife, cut zest in long strips, avoiding the white pith.  Thinly slice zest strips lengthwise.  Wrap sliced zest in plastic wrap; set aside zest and strips.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion; cook, stirring frequently with a long handled wooden spoon, until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add rice, increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until rice is translucent, about 4 minutes.  Add 1 cup broth mixture, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is almost absorbed.  Add about 1/2 cup broth and orange zest.  Cook, stirring constantly, until broth is mostly absorbed.  Continue adding broth in 1/2 cupfuls, stirring constantly, and allowing each addition to mostly absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender yet firm to the bite (you may have broth leftover).

Remove risotto from heat.  Stir in cheese, 1 to tablespoons reserved oil and salt.  Adjust seasoning to taste.  Serve risotto immediately, sprinkled with reserved zest strips and rosemary.

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