What do you get when two Russians and two Italians walk into a bar? Vodka Kale Risotto. We spun your traditional Risotto by adding vodka and a delicious stinky Italian cheese, Gorgonzola. They’re BFF’s and play well with Russian Kale. In your recent Winter CSA share, we threw in some wonderful kale, garlic and some acorn squash – all of which was used to make this nice little dinner recipe. Don’t forget to serve it with a nice martini, stirred not shaken with 2 olives. (Yes, I said stirred.)
“Happiness is…finding two olives in your martini when you’re hungry.” ~Johnny Carson
You may be telling yourself, “But I can’t make risotto! I’ve heard of chef Gordan Ramsay teleporting directly to people’s kitchens across the globe to swear profusely at them for $!*#ing up his beloved dish.” I cannot confirm nor deny that Gordan Ramsay will swear at you for messing up the risotto but making it is quite easy once you get your technique down. What the heck is risotto exactly? Creamy Italian rice. Simple right? It’s first cooked in a fat (butter and olive oil for this recipe) and cooked slowly, stirring constantly over a period of time in order to release the natural starch from the rice, called amylopectin. FOOD SCIENCE! Once the rice becomes al dente (we’ll get to that part later) we add the cheese to create the yummy deliciousness that is a signature feature of risotto. Still confused? Don’t worry, I’ve given a step-by-step process below on how to make the perfect risotto, every time. Hooray! Lets get started…
Recipe by: Mirinda @ Boistfort Valley Farm
2 cups Italian arborio rice
1 1/4 cups Italian Gorgonzola cheese (packed and cubed)
1 cup Russian Vodka
1 1/2 cups Russian Red Kale
8 cups of good quality Vegetable Broth (or chicken)
1 small Onion (finely minced)
2-3 cloves of chopped Garlic
8 Tbsp of Butter (good quality pasture raised)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp dried Oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste
ACORN SQUASH INGREDIENTS
1 large or 2 medium acorn squash
2-3 Tbsp of chili infused Olive Oil
2 Tbsp of dried Oregano
1 Tbsp Paprika
Salt and Pepper to taste
The first rule of risotto making is to prepare your Mise en place. Which is the French term for “putting in place”, as in set up. Risotto requires constant attention otherwise you can potentially ruin it. So, get everything and I mean everything ready to go and give yourself a nice 20-30 minutes of one-on-one time with your trusty stove top. Scared yet? No? Okay, now we can start.
- Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
- Prepare all of the following risotto ingredients. Cube and pack 1 1/2 cups of Gorgonzola cheese. Finely mince your onion and set aside. Smash and chop your garlic cloves and set aside. Chop up your kale and set aside.
- For your vegetable broth, place in a separate stock pot and heat to a medium temperature. This is a key step and remember to always keep your broth at the same temperature that you cook your rice. Let this get to temperature while we take care of some other stuff.
- Onto the Acorn Squash… Cut your squash in half, lengthwise and clean out the seeds and goop with a metal spoon. After your squash is cleaned, slice it into 1″ pieces and arrange on a baking sheet.
- Lightly drizzle your squash with the chili infused olive oil. Sprinkle the dried oregano and paprika on your squash and add a a little salt and pepper to taste. Place in the oven for about 20-25 minutes or until fork tender. (This should take about as long as it will take to cook the risotto)
- Lets get back to the main dish. In a large saute pan (preferably something with a thick bottom so you don’t burn the rice) heat your butter and olive oil on medium/low heat. Using a really good quality butter will make a huge difference in how your risotto tastes (in my personal opinion) so stick with a good pasture butter like Kerrygold, Organic Valley or some nice homemade butter from your local farm.
- Add your rice and minced onions and cook (stirring frequently) until the rice is transparent and very lightly toasted. This should take around 3-4 minutes.
- Now we add the vodka and chopped garlic. Gently stir the rice, vodka and garlic until the booze is well absorbed by the rice.
- At this point, we begin adding the broth. TWO ladles at a time. Add two ladles of broth the dried oregano, 1/2 tsp of pepper and STIR your risotto constantly until the broth has been absorbed. If you’re arm gets tired, you can always take a quick. Once that happens, you can add two more ladles of broth and repeat. Risotto is made by adding broth slowly over a period of time. Adding too much liquid at one time can make your risotto turn out runny. Be patient young padawan.
- Open up your oven and check on your squash. Is it done? Good. Now remove it and set aside. Dinner is almost ready!
- Now here’s the tricky part. Just because we have 8 cups of broth in that separate pan does not mean you’ll always use up the entire pot of broth. It’s always good to have a little too much broth leftover than not enough broth when you’re learning this dish. Good judgement comes into play at this stage. As you’re stirring (you didn’t forget the part about stirring constantly right?) give your risotto a little taste. Does it need salt? Add a little. How close is it to being al dente? What the heck does al dente mean? This is where we use the smear test. Here’s a great link you can use as a guide.
- Using the smear test link above – when your rice starts to look like the piece on the lower left, add your chopped kale. Now you can start adding your broth ONE ladle full at a time. Don’t forget to stir!
- Check your rice again. Does it look like the lower middle piece in the photo of the link I provided you? Yes? GOOD! Now you’re al dente. Remove from the heat and add your Gorgonzola cheese. Stirring well until all of the cheese has melted and is incorporated into the dish. The final product should look creamy and firm but not runny.
- Serve your risotto with the yummy squash you just pulled out of the oven and dust with a little paprika. Congratulations, you just made risotto! Enjoy!