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Risotto and Scallops

September 1, 2009

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I don’t like risotto.  Maybe I’ve just never had a good risotto before, but the whole “rich creamy rice” thing gets to me.  I was watching the Food Network the other week and Ina Garten was making this risotto that looked so good, it made me want to make risotto.  It was full of vegetables, mascarpone and parmesan cheese.  How could it not taste good?

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I have some bad news: it didn’t taste that great.  It wasn’t gag-envokingly bad but it just wasn’t that good either.  A little bland and kind of sloppy.  The really unfortunate part is that the recipe made enough to feed a small army.  Maybe it’s one of those things that tastes better the next day, so I’ll bring it for lunch the next couple of days to give it another shot.  The only really good part was the scallops, and that wasn’t even part of the recipe.

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If you have any suggestions for what could be done to make this recipe better, I’d love to hear them!

[Update: This may be even worse left-over.  I couldn’t even finish my lunch and had to stifle back a gag when the smell hit me as I was throwing it away.  Tragedy…]

Spring Green Risotto

(Courtesy of The Food Network)

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
  • 1 cup chopped fennel
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 4 to 5 cups simmering chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 pound thin asparagus
  • 10 ounces frozen peas, defrosted, or 1 1/2 cups shelled fresh peas
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese, preferably Italian
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus extra for serving

Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and fennel and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Add the rice and stir for a minute to coat with the vegetables, oil, and butter. Add the white wine and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more. This process should take 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the asparagus diagonally in 1 1/2-inch lengths and discard the tough ends. Blanch in boiling salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain and cool immediately in ice water. (If using fresh peas, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes until the starchiness is gone.)

When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, drain the asparagus and add it to the risotto with the peas, lemon zest, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm.

Whisk the lemon juice and mascarpone together in a small bowl. When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone mixture plus the Parmesan cheese and chives. Set aside, off the heat, for a few minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve hot with a sprinkling of chives and more Parmesan cheese.

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