Thursday, October 4, 2012
After about three weeks of steaming artichokes, I finally ventured into new territory: artichoke risotto. I've never tried any, and I'm not sure I ever noticed one on a restaurant menu, but I was sure artichokes would be a great addition to risotto, and I combined its rich, slightly quirky flavor with a sharp old Pecorino cheese. Result? Lovely.
Here's what I use:
1 large artichoke
1/2 medium onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup rice (arborio, or sushi rice - short grain white rice, unwashed)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cube vegetable (or mushroom) bouillon
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese (plus more for garnish)
sprinkle of salt and freshly grated black pepper
Lop off the top; about an inch and a half. Lop off the stem if it's very long; you can leave about an inch on.
Prepare a bowl of water with half a lemon squeezed into it. Artichokes oxidizes rapidly; you will dip it in the lemon water as you work, and keep them submerged until they are ready to cook.
Using a vegetable peeler (you can use a knife, but I find it easier with a peeler) peel/scrape away most of the tough outer parts.
You want to take away most of the fibrous green material, and leave just the white parts close to the stem.
This artichoke still needs more work.
Dip both halves in the lemon water and leave one of them there, while you scoop out the hairy feathery middle with a (sturdy) teaspoon. You will want all of that pretty purply stuff gone. And be careful, they look pretty but they're very prickly.
Lay the halves face down, and slice into wedges about a quarter of an inch thick.
Submerge in the lemon water again until ready to use.
Add the rice and continue stirring, until the rice turns slightly translucent.
When everything is really really hot...
If you're feeling very fancy, you can use dry white champagne.
When the wine has almost completely evaporated, add half a cup of water, and crumble in the cube of bouillon.
Continue stirring and cooking over high heat, adding half cups of water as it evaporated.
Cook for 15 or 20 minutes, until the rice is still firm, but not crunchy any more. You want it al dente, not porridge-like.
Turn off the heat, and sprinkle in the Pecorino cheese and give it a quick stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
You can also add a sprinkle of lemon juice here if you like tart food - I do!
Sprinkle a little more Pecorino on top and serve immediately. It makes a good filling dinner even if it is vegetarian, and goes well with salad of any kind. Just be careful with wine, though, because artichokes have a chemical that change taste perception in your mouth and your wine won't taste the same.