Carrot Risotto

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This risotto was inspired by a visit to the Williamstown fancy-pants restaurant Hops and Vines and the fact that we had so many carrots we had to allocate a whole drawer to storing them.

I pretty much smashed a few recipes I found from the internet together, because I am not rich enough to buy fresh-pressed carrot juice (ahem, Martha Stewart) nor cheap enough to use regular rice in place of Arborio.  Also, I never do the extra step of heating my broth in a separate pan, so neither should you.  Unless you want to.

I suggest enlisting a healthy number of chop-ers, because otherwise you might be at risk for carpel tunnel.  Usually an offer of wine helps do the trick, and you need it anyway for the risotto, so…

This dish is great for spring or summer mealtimes.  It’s rich, yet chock-full of vegetables and at least relatively healthy.  Fresh thyme really makes the dish.

Carrot Puree:

  • 2 1/2 quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 12 ounces carrots (about 4 to 5 medium), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

For the risotto:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups short-grain rice, such as Arborio or Carnaroli
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3-ish quarts chicken stock, to be safe.  Vegetable is fine too.
  • 12 ounces carrots (about 4 to 5 medium), peeled and shredded on the large holes of a box grater
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (grated on the small holes of a box grater), plus more for serving

For the puree:

Place the water in a large saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Stir in the salt. Add the carrots and boil them until just tender, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the carrots to a blender. (Reserve the water in the saucepan for the broth.) Blend the carrots with 3/4 cup of the hot water from the saucepan until smooth, adding additional water 1 tablespoon at a time if the purée is too thick. (You should have about 1 1/2 cups.) Set aside.

For the risotto:

  1. Turn on oven to 400 degrees.  Drizzle fennel with olive oil, pop in oven for about 15 minutes or until caramelized.  Let cool.
  2. In a large straight-sided pan, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme and season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the rice and measured salt and cook, stirring constantly, until the rice starts to crackle, about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until the wine has evaporated, about 1 minute more. Add the grated carrots and zucchini and cook, stirring, until vegetables start to wilt, about 45 seconds.
  4. Add about 2/3 cup of the broth and cook, stirring frequently, until the rice has almost completely absorbed it. Continue adding broth, 2/3 cup at a time, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. (Do not let the pan get dry—there should be a veil of stock over the rice at all times.) Stir in the reserved carrot purée and season with salt and pepper. When almost all of the liquid from the purée has been absorbed, add more broth, a little at a time, and taste regularly, until the rice is tender but firm to the bite, about 10 to 15 minutes more.
  5. When the risotto is done, stir in the Parmesan and season with salt and pepper.  Garnish with thyme.

Should definitely be consumed with wine out of coffee cups, texas hold-em poker, and too many people to fit around a table.

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