Sunchoke and Saffron Risotto

Sunchoke and Saffron Risotto

I totally have a recipe coming up for some amazake-sweetened teff muffins, but I thought it might be nice to go savory first.  Ever since Jes posted her recipe for Sorghum Risotto, I’ve had risotto on the brain.  Then I had an overpriced plate of sunchoke risotto at a local cafe that I knew I could make better (and for less money than I paid for one measly serving).  I used to make risotto a lot, and for company I especially wanted to impress, I served it with some roasted and marinated portobellas.  But risotto and I have parted ways over the years, not for any good reason other than I’ve been exploring other dishes and often straying from Italian-style foods.  I’m glad we’ve been reunited.

I first made this for my girlfriend’s return-from-tour meal (with the requisite roasted portobellas!), and ate it for days afterward, and with a bag of sunchokes in the crisper, tonight I decided it was time to make it again.  You see, this was my anti-soup meal choice following almost two days of soups, smoothies, water, and ice cream.  Yes, my friends, at the ripe at of 28, this lady got all four of her (impacted) wisdom teeth out.  At first I relished in the idea of several days of sweet and savory green smoothies and coconut-lime hempmilk ice cream, but I got sick of it real quick.  When the oral surgery office called today to check in on me they assured me it was totally alright to start introducing “eggs and mushy pasta.”  Yuck!  Creamy soft rice sounded much better to me.

Sunchoke and Saffron Risotto recipe

As Jes mentions in her post, risotto, though typically made with white arborio rice, can be made with just about any type of rice or grain (and I tested a particularly tasty “quinotto” for Terry last year).  It’s really more the extra liquid and cooking style (and sometimes ingredients) that make risotto creamy and yummy.  In other words, lots and lots of stirring.  Stirring until you just want to f- it and be done with it already, except you know the reward will be the greater if you maintain your patience, maybe have a glass of wine while you’re at it, and listen to some stirring-appropriate music, and stir some more.  This is the time for you to really commune with your food, and maybe roast some squash or mushrooms or tempeh while you’re at it.

Sunchoke and Saffron Risotto Preparation

After tasting this combination, I’m convinced that sunchokes and saffron were made for each other.  They’re earthy and unique and just pair brilliantly with one another.  Although I simplified the version pictured here due to pantry constraints, this also tastes amazing with roasted red peppers and fresh basil, but will still delight your little toes as is.  For my tender mouth I went ahead and served it on a succulently roasted acorn squash ring with a drizzle of balsamic reduction, but it would also be great with a green salad (think arugula!) and a crusty piece of bread if you’d rather roll that way.  And roasted mushrooms.  You can tell I’m experiencing an unfulfilled craving, can’t you?

Sunchoke ,Saffron Risotto

Sunchoke and Saffron Brown Rice Risotto
serves 6-8

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 pound sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichokes), scrubbed, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups brown rice (I used short grain)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 generous pinch saffron threads
3/4 cup white wine or sherry
4-6 cups light vegetable stock or water
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or basil
ground paprika (regular or smoked) to serve (optional)

You need two pots for this; one larger to cook your risotto in, and another smaller to keep your vegetable stock (or water) warm in.

Begin by gently heating the stock (keep it warm without letting it evaporate too much).  Then heat the olive oil in the other pot over medium-low heat and add your onions and garlic.  Cook until the onions begin to soften, and add your sliced sunchokes.  Continue cooking and stirring until onions are translucent.  Then add your rice, thyme and saffron (give them a good crush between your fingers into the pot), and stir to coat.  Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring to keep the rice from sticking too much.

Deglaze your pot with white wine, stirring to loosen up anything at the bottom, and cook until wine has nearly evaporated.  Add your warm stock about 3/4 cup at a time (a large soup ladle works well) or enough to just cover the rice mixture.  Cook, stirring to release the starches in the rice, until each batch of added stock or water has nearly evaporated, then add another ladleful.  Contine cooking, stirring, and adding stock until the rice has softened and a creamy liquid has formed; this may take an hour or more.  (You may or may not need all the liquid called for).  Add salt and pepper to taste, and stir in fresh herbs just before serving, topping each serving with additional herbs and a sprinkling of paprika if desired.

Prepare Sunchoke and Saffron Risotto

Now to put ice packs on my cheeks and watch something, hopefully, funny!  Till next time.