The winter holiday season is a great time to spend with family and friends with all of the exciting celebrations and get-togethers happening. At most of these events, food has a center point where everyone gathers as they eat and enjoy whatever dish there is. From centerpieces to side dishes, it's important to keep things simple and efficient so you're not super stressed. Each of these recipes is an easy recipe to pull off, but will impress your guests!
This holiday season, I decided to go to one of my favorite side dishes/vegetarian main courses to complement the Crispy Roasted Pork Leg - risotto! It's a dish I've played with a couple of times before when experimenting with ancient grains a while back, but I've never truly cooked a legit one. This was my attempt at it, and it went pretty well!
I went with one of my favorite pasta sauces - alla Vodka - as the inspiration for this risotto to keep an Italian theme on our Christmas meal. It also gives a fancy, alcoholic kick to the risotto. Vodka sauce typically has tomatos and vodka in it, so my cooking liquid was a third tomatoes, two thirds stock. With some vodka spiked in beforehand, this makes a great dish! Make sure to cook it right before you're ready to begin the meal, as the rice can absorb more liquid as it cools and destroy the risotto consistency over time.
Recipe serves 8-10 people.
4 shallots, finely chopped
4 cups tomato puree (pasatta)
8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
8 cups uncooked arborio rice
2 oz vodka
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
Fresh basil and oregano for garnishing
Salt and pepper to season
1) Combine the tomato puree/pasatta and stock in a sauce pan, and bring up to a boil. Turn to a simmer and leave on the back burner to add into the risotto over time.
2) In a large saute or frying pan on medium-high heat, add in the olive oil, shallots, and garlic. Season to taste, and cook until the shallots soften, about 2 minutes.
3) Add in the rice and stir until lightly toasted, about 1-2 minutes. Deglaze with the vodka, then stir the rice.
4) While continually stirring the rice, add in ladlefuls of the tomato stock (roughly 1-2 cups at a time), waiting between each until the liquid is fully absorbed by the rice. Continue for about 45 minutes or until the risotto is lava-like in consistency and fully cooked.
5) Stir in the sliced fresh basil, then plate, garnishing with fresh basil and oregano.
This risotto is definitely not as rich as a risotto you would get in a restaurant due to no dairy being present, but it still packs a ton of flavor thanks to the vodka, tomato, and shallots taking the dish to a whole new level. It is a great, acidic, but tasty contrast to a centerpiece meat, and will impress your family and friends! Risotto may seem challenging, but this recipe makes it simple and fun!
I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =)