1 pound red beets, greens removed
3 ½ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
1 leek, finely chopped
2 T olive oil
2 cups Arborio rice (14 oz)
½ cup dry white wine
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T crème fraiche
Place beets in a medium sauce pot filled with salted water. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer the beets until tender, about 30-40 minutes.
When beets are cool enough to handle, peel them, discarding stems and root ends. Put beets in a blender, add a few tablespoons of stock and lemon juice and puree until very smooth. Set aside.
While beets are cooling, bring broth and water to a bare simmer in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan. Keep at a bare simmer, covered.
Cook onion in oil in a wide 4- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.
Add wine and simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 1 minute. Stir in ½ cup broth and simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding broth, about ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is just tender and creamy-looking, 18 to 22 minutes. (Reserve leftover broth.)
Stir in beet puree, lemon zest, Crème fraiche and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a few more minutes, stirring, until heated through. Adjust texture with more broth if necessary.
*I like to serve my risotto with crumbled feta and roasted grapes. Beet chips, pine nuts and fresh basil are also great accompaniments.
The naturally sweet earthiness of beets and tanginess from the lemon zest are perfect accompaniments to the bright Sauvignon Blanc. The creamy starch of the risotto helps quell the wines racing acidity, allowing more fruit and herbaceousness to shine through.
First Course, Entrée
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