Beet Risotto

by Patricia Eddy on February 15, 2011

Beet Risotto - Two Ways

We have expectations as to what food will look like. Strawberries are red. Spinach is green. Cream is white. These expectations translate to prepared dishes as well. Sloppy Joes and chili should be sort of a brick or rust color. Fried chicken should be golden brown. Risotto should be white (or mostly white). So when this dish came out of the pan a brilliant reddish pink, I admit, it gave us pause. Luckily we only paused for a moment, because this was truly one of the best risottos I’ve ever made. I decided to make two dishes, one with rice and one with emmer. I was craving a higher carbohydrate dish to prepare for a long run the next day, and I was really curious to see how one recipe would adapt to two different grains. The results surprised  me. Both dishes were fantastic, but one was the clear winner. What to know which one? Read through to the recipe’s notes!

Beet Risotto - from La Tartine Gourmande (slightly adapted for locality)

  • 1.5 cups rice or emmer
  • 4 cups chicken or turkey stock
  • 1 large beet (approximately 8 oz), cooked, peeled, and diced.
  • 2 large shallots, divided and diced
  • Zest from 1 orange
  • 2 Tbsp rice flour (or hazelnut flour)
  • 1.5 oz Parmesan cheese
  • 9 Tbsp dry white wine
  • 1 Tbsp basil
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon of the olive oil and one tablespoon of the butter over medium heat.
  2. Saute the shallot for 2-3 minutes. Add the beet and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the orange zest, an little salt and pepper, and cook another 4-5 minutes.
  4. Cool slightly and puree in a food processor. Set aside.
  5. Divide the Parmesan cheese. All but 1/2 of an ounce should be shredded. The last 1/2 of an ounce can be shaved (for garnish).
  6. Heat the chicken stock over low heat and keep warm.
  7. In a large pot, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of butter over medium heat.
  8. Cook the shallot for 2-3 minutes.
  9. Add the rice or emmer and stir to coat all of the grains evenly.
  10. Pour in the wine, and cook until the wine is fully absorbed.
  11. Take a ladle full of the stock and add it to the rice. Stir well and cook until just about absorbed.
  12. Add another ladle full of stock. Continue adding stock, a ladle full at a time, and cooking until just about absorbed.
  13. When you’ve reached the last bit of the stock, cook until the stock is almost absorbed and remove the pot from the heat.
  14. Mix in the beet puree and the hazelnut or rice flour, then the shredded Parmesan, the basil, and the rest of the butter.
  15. Serve, topped with the shaved Parmesan.

Notes: Surprisingly, or maybe not, I liked the emmer risotto better than the rice risotto. Granted, the rice risotto had the classic risotto texture – creamy, soft, rich. However, the emmer risotto had a better flavor. It was deeper, nuttier, and a tad more acidic. I think that the emmer didn’t absorb the white wine in the same way and so a little bit more of the wine flavor was leftover. There’s every possibility that the rice risotto might have yielded the same flavor had I added more wine, but that’s an experiment for next time, because there definitely will be a next time.

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