Thursday, October 6, 2011

Double Take: Super Tomato Risotto

I'm the sort of person whose tongue gets bored. Does this happen to you? I eat leftovers and make an effort not to waste food but I often have to look for ways to transform the leftovers a bit so they become more exciting. To prevent tongue boredoem, a dish has to have a mixture of flavors, textures, and colors.

Today's dish lacked flavor by itself BUT its flavor was better the next day and it had lots of options for flexibility. On day one, the flavor reminded me of the base fo a dish my family from the low country of South Carolina prepares--perloe. There are a variety of spellings and methods for making perloe (see also pirlo, purlo, and perlo) but it often starts with a rice and tomato base. It has lots of flavor, texture and color. I couldn't help but imagine other components of perloe that would make this dish pop. Mind you, this won't make purlo but it will transform the recipe to something that can give your tongue a little party. Common ingredients in our family's purlo include: kielbasa, tomato, onion, bacon, chicken, shrimp. Its a kitchen sink sort of dish. As usual, the link to the original is below. You'll find my suggestions for add ins in my listing though. Give it a whirl and let me know if it cures your tongue boredom.

Tomato Risotto

Transformed Tomato Risotto (Adapted from Macheesemo)

Prep Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 6-8

1 1/2 c. Arborio (or Risotto) Rice
1 c. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped finely
1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved and chopped OR 1 c. fresh tomatoes, diced
1 medium white onion, chopped (about 3/4 c.)
1 bulb garlic, roasted
2 Tbsp unsalted butter (or bacon grease)
2 Tbsp olive oil
8 c. chicken stock, hot (I used better than buillion so no further salt was desired)
2/3 c. dry white wine
2 Tbsp heavy cream (optional)
1/2 c. Parmesan Cheese, grated
Pepper (to taste)
*1 c. leftover cooked chicken (spicy roast chicken is good here)
*1-2 links of kielbasa (cooked)
*3-4 pieces of cooked bacon, chopped
*15-20 baby shrimp, may want to use more if only adding shrimp
*1-2 green onions or chives, diced

*All starred items are options for making the dish more interesting and tasty. I added roast chicken but any and all of these combinations would be great.

How To:

Do Ahead!!!

1a. Save some leftover chicken.

1b. Slice tomatoes into 1/4" thick slices and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt. (The salt helps draw out the water.)

Place a bulb of garlic on the baking sheet too.

Roast at 325 for 45 min to an hour. Expect their edges to be wrinkled but don't blacken them.

When ready to Cook the Risotto

2. If you desire bacon and/or kielbasa, cook them in a LARGE POT and remove. Leave the grease in the pan and skip the butter. (Why a large pot? You'll need it for the risotto. There's no point in making extra dishes or having to transfer bacon grease from one container to another unnecessarily.)

3. Chop your onion while the bacon and/or kielbasa cook. After removing the cooked meat, toss the onion in the grease to cook for about 5 minutes on medium. You can add oil here if you don't think there's enough bacon grease of just skip butter and oil and use only bacon grease.

4. Squoosh the roasted garlic out of its cloves and into the pot too.

5. While the onion cooks, pour all your chicken stock in a large pot and get it simmering.  It has to be hot when you add it to your risotto later.

6. Now is a good time to chop your sun dried tomatoes. If they give you trouble, toss them in the food processor for a few pulses. You just want them coarsely chopped.

7. Add the risotto rice to the pot and cook for a minute, stirring constantly.

8. Add the sun dried tomatoes and the white wine. Continue stirring to prevent anything from sticking to the pot.

9. When the white wine is almost evaporated, add a ladle full of chicken stock. If you don't have a ladle, a half coffee cup or 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of chicken stock is the target quantity. This isn't an exact science but it doesn't have to be.

10. After adding chicken stock to the rice, stir slowly. As the rice starts to get dry, add more chicken stock and stir.

11. Repeat step ten until you've got nearly all the stock in the rice. The rice will slowly expand, absorbing the stock. As you add stock, it will take increasingly longer to absorb. You want to slowly stir the rice. You can walk away from it for a minute or two but in general, this dish needs to be kept moving. If you can rig up a hand mixer to slowly do this task for you, more power to you. However, it will need to be monitored for absorption of stock so you're probably best off doing it yourself. This stirring is a great task for a kitchen helper.

12. The total time will be about 40-45 minutes. After about 35 minutes, start taste testing for doneness. You don't want it mushy but you only want a bit of bite to it. You definitely don't want it to be crunchy. Mel likes hers with more bite than I do so taste for yourself and see what you like.

13. While you wait, you can dice up your kielbasa, chop your chicken, crumble your bacon, or just relax and stir.

13. When the risotto consistency is right, stir in a bit of cream, the parmesan cheese, roasted tomatoes, and meat add ins.

14. Add salt and pepper to taste. Its unlikely you'll need salt though.

15. Toss on some green onions if desired and enjoy!


I liked the base flavor (without the add ins) but it wasn't very interesting to help me keep eating. After adding in some roast chicken, it was much improved. I wouldn't serve it again without tossing in some add ins to make it more interesting. Its a good base flavor though and doesn't take much to make it delicious. It reheated with better flavor than it had the first night. I was surprised by this but pleased since there were definitely plenty of leftovers.

Swing by Fabulously Fun Food to see what Mel thought of this recipe!

1 comment:

  1. Goat cheese! I think this recipe would benefit from some goat cheese. Although, I think that is the solution to all good risottos at this point in time. Or perhaps it just needs an overnight rest. It's like Indian or Thai food in that respect...