Food & Wine (October 2009)
-- The embodiment of your childhood nightmares
Yeah, there's no getting around it: This beet risotto is the most unappetizing-looking dish we've made in a long, long time.
We'll allow that we may have overcooked the risotto a little, leaving it a little on the gummy side. But with its garish blood-red color and gelatinous, gooey consistency, this beet risotto looked, in a word, gross. We went back and forth over what it resembled the most: beef carpaccio? Fancy Feast?
One thing was for sure, though: This beet risotto would be right at home at your upcoming haunted house.
So how'd this gory side dish actually taste?
Answer: Not great!
Well, let us clarify. We ended up with a well seasoned, nicely cooked risotto -- that tasted exactly nothing like beets. Seriously. It was a perfectly serviceable risotto (and we love a risotto!), we just couldn't discern anything the beets added other than the ghastly hue.
And the beets -- with the peeling and the grating and the stained hands -- were actually kind of a lot of work.
So we'd recommend this risotto only if you're looking for a Samhain side dish. And if that's the case, do yourself a favor. Skip the beets and just use some red food coloring.
7 cups chicken stock or 3 1/2 cups low-sodium broth mixed with 3 1/2 cups of water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
2 large beets (12 ounces each), peeled and coarsely shredded, plus thinly sliced beets for garnish
3 cups arborio rice (1 1/4 pounds)
6 ounces young pecorino cheese, freshly grated (1 1/2 cups)
2 teaspoons poppy seeds, plus more for garnish
- In a saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer; cover and keep warm. In a medium enameled cast-iron casserole, melt the butter in the oil. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes. Add the shredded beets and cook, stirring, until the pan is dry, 12 minutes. Spoon half of the beets into a small bowl.
- Add the rice to the casserole and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the warm stock to the rice and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the stock is nearly absorbed. Continue adding the stock 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly, until the rice is al dente and a thick sauce forms, 22 minutes. Stir in the cooked beets, cheese and the 2 teaspoons of poppy seeds. Cook, stirring, until heated through; add a few tablespoons of water if the risotto is too thick. Spoon the risotto into bowls. Garnish with sliced beets and poppy seeds and serve.