NRS06/NRS07/NRS08: Risotto of Wisconsin Meibutsu/Sage-Acorn Squash Risotto with Pancetta/Saison and Camembert Risotto ウィスコンシン州名物風味リゾット・セージ味カボチャとパンチェッタのリゾット・セーゾンとカマンベールのリゾット

These past two weeks, the viking was on vacation. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get the appropriate amount of new risottos! That’s right – since I went AWOL for two Sundays in a row, this Sunday I’m making up for it with not one, not two, but three brand new risottos!

The first pays tribute to various meibutsu (local specialties) from my home state of Wisconsin; namely, wild rice, cranberries, beer, butter, and cheese. Please enjoy the creamy tang of real Wisconsin-made aged Cheddar and young Colby bound together with rustic wild rice and a light burst of cranberry sweetness. I made this for my extended family, so the recipe here is good for about nine people as opposed to the usual two.

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Risotto of Wisconsin Meibutsu

2 cups Arborio rice (uncooked)
about 1 1/2 cups wild rice (cooked)
about 3/4 cup dried unflavored cranberries, chopped
about 1/2 onion, finely chopped
about 1 cup Hefeweizen (substitute dry white wine)
about 6 cups chicken stock
about 1 cup shredded Colby and aged Cheddar cheeses
about 2 tablespoons butter
salt
pepper

  1. Heat about 1 1/2 tablespoons butter over medium heat in a deep frying pan. Add onions with pepper and sauté until soft and lightly browned.
  2. Add Arborio rice to the pan and stir well to coat with butter. Increase heat and keep stirring to toast rice.
  3. When rice starts to turn opaque, add about 1/4 cup beer to deglaze. Cook off liquid, then reduce heat back to medium.
  4. Add a ladleful of stock, and cook, stirring often. When the rice has absorbed most of the liquid, add more stock and continue stirring. Repeat this step several times until rice has finished cooking.
  5. After about 20 minutes, add the chopped cranberries and stir.
  6. When rice is almost al dente, add cooked wild rice and a ladleful of stock, stir, and cook off liquid.
  7. Finally, add cheese, remaining beer and butter, and cook until smooth and creamy. Salt to taste and serve immediately.

The second risotto was conceived as a somewhat non-traditional entry to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. It is meant to blend well with the rest of the many, many other dishes served, in keeping with the “pile it on” Turkey Day mentality (i.e., you can put gravy and/or cranberry sauce on it and it won’t taste nasty), but it should also do well as a robust standalone dish with a pleasant autumnal flavor and the creamy tang of Gorgonzola.

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Sage-Acorn Squash Risotto with Pancetta

2 cups Arborio rice
about 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
about 6 cups chicken stock
about 1/2 cup dry white wine
2 ounces pancetta
1 acorn squash or small pumpkin, seeded, peeled, and cubed
about 1 ounce fresh sage, chopped or torn
1/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup Marscapone cheese
ground cinnamon
salt
pepper

  1. Heat butter over medium heat in a deep frying pan. Add Arborio rice to the pan and stir well to coat with butter. Increase heat and keep stirring to toast rice.
  2. When rice starts to turn opaque, add about 1/4 cup wine to deglaze. Cook off liquid, then reduce heat back to medium.
  3. Add cubed squash, pepper and ladleful of stock, and cook, stirring often. When the rice has absorbed most of the liquid, add more stock and continue stirring. Repeat this step several times until rice has finished cooking.
  4. When rice is nearly al dente, add sage and cinnamon and a ladleful of stock, stir, and cook off liquid.
  5. Add cheese, remaining wine, and cook until smooth and creamy. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

The third and final risotto was an experiment based on a classic beer and cheese pairing: saison, the classic farmer’s ale from Wallonia, and Camembert, from the nearby Normandy region of France. Actually, in this case, both beer and cheese are from California – Le Merle from Fort Bragg, and Rouge et Noir from Petaluma. At any rate, you’re going to want to use a fairly robust Camembert (i.e., nothing Japanese), but nothing too expensive because many of the funkier subtleties of the cheese won’t survive melting. This risotto is a white wedding of fruity and buttery, spicy and earthy, tangy and fungal, offset by a tasteful green bouquet of basil and mint.

For a more Normandy-centric version, add some seafood and use cider and/or Calvados in place of the saison.

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Saison and Camembert Risotto

3/4 cup short-grain rice
about 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup apple vinegar
about 6 cups vegetable stock
1/4 onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
about 100 grams Camembert cheese
about 3/4 cup saison
about 1/8 cup pine nuts, toasted
fresh flat-leaf parsely
fresh basil
scallions, chopped
salt
pepper

  1. Heat butter over medium heat in a deep frying pan. Add garlic and onions and pepper and cook until brown.
  2. Add Arborio rice to the pan and stir well to coat with butter. Increase heat and keep stirring to toast rice.
  3. When rice starts to turn opaque, add vinegar to deglaze. Cook off liquid, then reduce heat back to medium.
  4. Add a ladleful of stock and cook, stirring often. When the rice has absorbed most of the liquid, add more stock and continue stirring. Repeat this step several times until rice has finished cooking.
  5. When rice is nearly al dente, scallions, and pine nuts, and a ladleful of stock, stir, and cook off liquid.
  6. Add cheese, herbs, and saison, and cook until smooth and creamy. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
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