Right now, as I'm typing this, I'm munching away on this particular plate of risotto because, as I said to Tanna earlier this morning as I was answering comments, visions of hot, creamy, veggie-filled risotto have been dancing through my dreams lately. And although it's finally a sunny day, as opposed to all the rain we've been getting, it's darned cold out with an icy north wind blasting; a perfect day for a stick-to-your-ribs (or in my case, hips, but, hey, a girl's gotta stay warm somehow!), hearty risotto.
The fact that I posted a risotto recipe yesterday doesn't bother me in the least, nor should it you. That dish was made earlier this month before the farmers market closed for the winter. Sometimes things just work out this way.
What I really want to tell you is how today's risotto came about. You see, the other day I made a veggie curry poaching liquid for catfish that was soooo delicious (both the catfish and the poaching liquid) that I had to save the stock for another day, me being on a definite curry kick just now and, really, could you, should you toss such a healthful, tasty elixir down the drain? I thought not. I remember saying to Mr CC that this would be fantastic in a risotto, to which he murmured, mmmmmm. Or something to that effect.
So in order to make this risotto, you first have to poach some catfish. Or at the very least, make this incredible stock.
Vegetable Curry Stock
Christine's original recipe
2 small yellow onions
3 celery ribs
3 small carrots
1 small parsnip
1 long stem fresh tarragon
4 stems fresh flat-leaf parsley
6 stems fresh thyme
1 tablespoon fine Kosher salt
6-8 whole black peppercorns
2 2-inch strips Meyer lemon peel
2 heaping teaspoons yellow curry powder
olive oil spray for the pan
1/3 cup dry vermouth
1 1/2 quarts water
Place the water in a stock pot over medium high heat.
Peel and coarsely chop the vegetables and sauté them until lightly browned in a heavy skillet that has been sprayed with a film of olive oil spray.
Deglaze the pan with the vermouth, scraping up any browned bits, then add the pan contents to the stock pot along with the herbs, salt, peppercorns, curry and lemon peel.
Bring the contents of the stock pot to just under a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
Strain the liquid, adjusting the seasonings if necessary.
Should you go on to poach some fish in this, which I highly recommend, be sure to strain the used stock through a fine-mesh strainer when all is said and done. Then keep it tightly covered in the coldest part of the fridge and use it up within, say, 3 days. If you can't use it within that time, put it in the freezer.
Now on to the risotto, which is really the star of this post.
Curried Pumpkin and Leek Risotto
Here is where I usually either claim as my own the recipe that follows, or give credit to whomever inspired me. Well, risotto has been made for so long and in so many ways that I can't really lay any claim to it, nor do I wish to. So I'll just say that the ingredients that went into the risotto were inspired by what I thought would go well with the vegetable curry stock, which is my own, with grateful thanks to Italian cooks everywhere who make risotto, in all its iterations, without batting an eyelash.
6 cups vegetable curry stock
1 1/2 cups leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
1 small onion. peeled, cut cross-wise then into thins half-moons
1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
1 heaping cup cooked pumpkin (mine was a small French type called "rouge" that I found at the farmers market. You can see it in the photo above.)
1 1/3 cups arborio rice (I used a locally produced arborio from Lundberg Farms)
1 tablespoon olive oil for the pan, used in small increments as needed
Put the curry stock in a saucepan and heat on medium high until it begins to steam.
Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and keep warm.
Place a teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Sauté the onions, leeks and garlic until softened and golden brown (that's the way I like it, anyway), adding a bit more oil to the pan to prevent sticking.
Add the sage and the arborio rice and stir until the rice is coated with the oil, then continue sautéeing until the rice has toasted just a little bit.
Pour in the Meyer lemon juice and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Ladle in 1 cup of the curry stock and stir until almost all the liquid has been absorbed.
Continue to add the stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently, until each addition has been absorbed and the rice is creamy and just a little bit firm to the bite. I used 5 cups of the stock.
Now add the pumpkin and stir until most of the lumps are incorporated.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow the risotto to rest for 5 minutes. You can add parmesan cheese now if you wish, but I liked it without.
That's it. It took all of 40 minutes to prepare the risotto, from cutting the veggies to dishing a heap of it onto a plate and eating it hungrily. It was creamy and savory with curry spice but the sweet acidity of the Meyer lemon came through beautifully and wasn't overpowered by the curry as I feared it might be. I think I just may be getting good at this risotto thing.
As for the top photo with what looks to be some kind of meat in the risotto? That was my doing: After staring at all the starchy carbs I was about to ingest, I opened a can of local albacore, heated it up and added some of it to my plate. If you strive to eat low-carb, at least go for balance when you fall off the wagon. Buon appetito!
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