Sunday, December 2, 2012

Guest Post: Kale, Mushroom & Sage Risotto

Hey all, here is the first post from a guest blogger. Everyone welcome MV Banks! If you're interested in learning more about her, see her bio at the end of the post.
When I went gluten-free by doctor’s orders about a year ago, risotto was there for me when all other tasty carbs abandoned me.  Risotto is a time-intensive, but worthwhile dish, that has no gluten whatsoever, but still allows me that familiar Italian style that I find myself craving without pizza and pasta in my life. I love it because it allows me an excuse to hover over a warm stove when I refuse to turn the heat up in my apartment.  I love it because I can throw questionably turning vegetables in and no one is the wiser.  

I’ve had some kale from the market in my fridge for a while now that was becoming a little undesirable. I figured I’d
sautée what was salvageable and throw it into a risotto of some sort.  Due to the regularity with which I make risotto, I can’t say I took this from any particular recipe.  At this point, I essentially have the necessary ratios memorized and throw in whatever suits my fancy on that particular day. Today, my fancy included kale, mushrooms and sage.

Prep Time:
15 minutes

Cook Time:
60 minutes

One (1) medium onion 
A glass of wine is very important;
both to your dish & your existential being
Five (5) cups of vegetable stock 
One (1) cup of white mushrooms  
Four (4) tablespoons of butter (2 tbs for mushrooms. 2tbs for onions)
Salt to taste  
Two (2) cups kale, destemmed and sliced into strips 
Two (2) cloves garlic, diced
¼ cup of red wine
1/2 cup
of white rice
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup of heavy cream
6-8 leaves of sage, coarsely chopped

Heat up your stock in a saucepan.  While it simmers, dice up your onion, garlic, and sage.  Take this opportunity to slice up your mushrooms if you didn’t buy the pre-sliced ones.

As your stock heats up, sautée your mushrooms in 2 tbs butter (or olive oil if you’re feeling health conscious) in a dutch oven.  If you, like me, do not own one but are just lusting after one, a large pot will suffice. 
Add a splash of wine to serve as a good excuse to open the bottle.  I used red wine, because I think red wine risottos make for a heartier, winter meal, but traditional risottos use a drier white such as a pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc.  Salt to taste, and remove from heat when fully sauteed.  
In the same pot, brown your onions and garlic in the remaining mushroom juice and final 2 tbs of butter.

Once browned, add your rice.  Any old white rice will do, although risotto purists will tell you to stick to Arborio rice.  I prefer Safeway’s finest generic white rice.  
Once the rice is well coated in the butter, onion, garlic combination, add the mushrooms and your ¼ cup wine until the wine is well combined and no longer visible.  
Add your now-heated broth ¼ cup at a time, stirring it each time until it is fully absorbed and no longer visible.  Repeat this while stirring to prevent sticking until all of your broth is fully incorporated.  It’s tedious. Pour yourself a glass of wine so you may be more philosophical about what the endless stirring all really means.
Do not, by any means, give up.  It’s worth it!  Keep stirring!

While the broth is being incorporated into the rice, sautee your kale in olive oil on the side.  I recommend using a highly seasoned cast-iron skillet if you have one.
When your risotto is completed and all your broth incorporated, salt to taste.  Stir in your kale, parmesan (preferably freshly grated, but I promise that Kraft’s finest shaker cheese gets the job done) and leftover Thanksgiving sage.  

Ignore all health ramifications, and stir in that heavy cream.  You’ll thank me later.  Pour yourself another glass of wine since you finished that first one, and scoop some of your risotto into a bowl.  

A wonderful addition that I would’ve added had it been the proper season would have been fresh tomatoes. The sage and red wine do wonders to make this a heartier, winter risotto.  Take your risotto to new, fun places, with any array of combinations.  White wine with squash, ginger and lime!  Roasted eggplant and spinach!  Whatever may be going bad in your fridge!  The possibilities are endless.

MV spends her time destressing in her kitchen while listening to dorky podcasts like This American Life and The New Yorker Fiction, and having one-sided conversations with her dog.  She can also be found highlighting events for the Baltimore Fishbowl and giving newcomers suggestions of what to do in Charm City at her blog, So You’re New to Bmore.  By day, she works at a nonprofit.
Follow her on Twitter, if you’re so inclined, at @banksmv.