Saturday, December 3, 2011
Blue Cheese-Beet Risotto
There are so many talented bloggers "out there" who have way more expensive cameras than I do, are infinitely more patient at explaining step-by-step instructions, and generous with their enthusiasm in the face of any kitchen hardship or mishap. I am not a teacher, I am a critic. I am not an artist, I am an analyzer. I am not creative, I am just opinionated. If you've never made risotto, you should try it. You can test out virtually any variation you'd like, once you understand tha basic formula for the recipe. So, go look it up if you don't have it memorized, but be sure to pick up some of these beets if you find them at your market, because they are unbeetable atop blue-cheese risotto!
Their color is more of a candy-apple red than a beet red, and when I asked the farmer about it, he told me "they taste the same but they're striped inside." I actually have consumed these in restaurants before, but they were thinly sliced on a salad, where their stripes lay in gauzy transparancy over mixed greens. It was a quite a different experience to steam them and eat them whole. They tasted sweeter to me, but the texture was also different. The stripes were not just a color distinction, there was actually a bit of a segmentation, or layering between the colors. Not as pronounced as a membrane, though there was a stringy core that ran through in parts, very similar to the core of a pear. The overall texture seemed softer to me, a bit spongier though when I describe it that way it sounds gross, and they are absolutely delicious. I cut them in quarters in hopes they would cook a little faster, but that ultimately just makes them harder to peel. Instead, simply wash them well, cover with water, and boil 45-60 minutes until a knife can be easily inserted. The skins will slip right off and you can dice or quarter to serve. They disappointinly lost their most vibrant colors after cooking this way, but retained the attractive striped shading. It's possible that roasting would help them maintain some of their vibrancy.
For the risotto, I used a basic traditional recipe, but chopped up the beet greens and stirred them in during the last few minutes of cooking, and substitued blue cheese for parmesan.