Valentine’s Day is a great day to be in a restaurant for one reason: the people watching. I love to look at couples and try and guess as much as I can about them. Have they only been dating a short while and are still sort of awkward around each other? Are they bored to tears but don’t feel right about breaking up so close to Valentine’s Day? Or perhaps they’re one of those rare couples who actually look like they’re enjoying each other’s company. When I see them, I realize that I should be paying more attention to the guy across the table from me. Whoops!
The one problem with going out on Valentine’s Day is you pay twice as much to eat from half of the menu. So for this at-home cook, cooking from scratch is the way to go.
If you’re looking for something a little special, think champagne. When I saw the recipe for Giada’s champagne risotto, I knew I had to try it. The delicate flavors of the shallot, asparagus and champagne get a swift kick in the pants from the crispy crunch of prosciutto on top.
Here it is in stage one. The best part about making this dish is you get to finish the champagne as you go. I’ve been feeling a little under the weather, so I thought turning my glass into a mimosa might help boost my daily Vitamin C intake. 🙂
Champagne Risotto (for 2)
from Everyday Pasta
*I am not the kind of cook that sets her ingredients out ahead of time. I’m an off the cuff kind of girl. But this is one instance in which you’ll want things laid out in advance.
You will need:
- 4 thin slices of prosciutto
- 3 C reduced sodium chicken broth
- 2 T butter
- 12 asparagus spears, cut into bite size (or smaller) pieces
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 3/4 C Arborio rice
- 3/4 C champagne
- 1/4 C Parmesan cheese (more if you are me)
- 1/4 t salt
- 1/2 t pepper
The salt and pepper amounts might seem odd to you, but trust Giada on this one. You don’t need to go adding copious amounts of salt to a dish with heaps of Parmesan and prosciutto.
Preheat the oven to 450. Lightly grease a cookie sheet, and place the prosciutto slices on it. Bake for 6-8 minutes, just until the prosciutto becomes crisp. Set aside. The slices will crisp up a little more as they cool.
Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Blanch the asparagus for 2 minutes and then use a slotted spoon to take them out of the stock. Set them aside, and keep the stock warm over a low flame.
In another medium pan, melt 1 T of the butter. Add the shallot and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 3 more minutes. Add the champagne and simmer, continuing to stir until the champagne has been almost completely absorbed. Add one or two ladlefuls of the chicken broth, following the same procedure you did with the champagne. You are looking for a creamy mixture, and al dente rice (tender, but with a little bite in the middle). Remove the risotto from the heat, add the remaining T of butter, and stir in the asparagus and Parmesan.
Scoop out two servings and break up the prosciutto over top.
Here is the risotto, ready for a close-up. Drooling yet? Prosciutto and freshly grated Parmesan will do that to you every time.
I’ve already opined on how versatile risotto is. Once you have the method down, you can substitute any liquid and add-ins you see fit. Besides this creation, Giada suggests some sweet risottos, which might also work on this week’s impending day of love (or any other day, for that matter).
- To make chocolate risotto, cook the rice with milk, stirring in sugar, chopped hazelnuts, chocolate chips, raisins and brandy for the last five minutes of cooking.
- For cinnamon peach risotto, replace the stock with heavy cream (now she’s speaking my language), and flavor with ground cinnamon, sliced peaches, and brandy.
- And strawberry risotto is quite likely the risotto I’ll make next. Replace the stock with orange juice, and garnish with sliced strawberries and chopped mint. Yes, please.