sweet mary and joseph i love trader joe's. like many other things i talk about, my love for TJs didn't really hit full force until i moved to new york city. there were two grocery stores that i typically went to - trader joe's and whole foods. when i chose that latter i more often than not ended up penniless, praying that my boss would ask me to order him lunch at terri's nyc so i could order something for myself as well. some weeks i ended up eating rice and water. the joys on living in manhattan with a joke of a salary. the best thing about trader joe's is that you can get great food for a reasonable price. i never leave the store feeling as though i just broke my piggy bank. my hometown of libertyville has been begging the company to open up a location in our town for years; it's been at least 10 years of pleading. each year that passed was another one without a trader joe's. it was sad. it wasn't until this past year that we got our wish. construction on a new shopping center began last summer and on february 21, 2014, trader joe's libertyville opened it's door. unfortunately, they decided to open just as i moved into the city.
i had my cousin and her husband over for dinner a few weeks back and i made this risotto and paired it with a lemon chicken (cooked in a skillet with lemon, butter, shallots and capers). i've done risotto before and love how you can take a simple recipe and transform it with different flavors and inspirations. most people tend to give up on risotto because it is somewhat time-consuming. and you cannot rush the process otherwise it won't turn out well. so do what i did - invite people over, grab a big glass of wine and stand in front of the stove. the time will fly by!
i made my risotto with chicken stock, but it can easily be substituted with vegetable stock and turned vegetarian! i promise you, give this a try and you'll become a believer!
until next time...happy eating!
champagne saffron risotto serves 4
1 large pinch Spanish saffron threads 5 cups chicken, beef or vegetable broth 4 tablespoons butter, divided 1 shallot, diced 1 cup Arborio rice 1/2 cup champagne salt and white pepper grated parmigiano-reggiano
- Crumble and soak the saffron in about 1/2 cup of the broth. Set aside.
- In a large sauté pan, melt half the butter and sauté the diced shallots over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the rice and stir gently to coat the grains with butter. When the grains are glistening, add the champagne and stir until it is nearly gone.
- Begin to add the broth, a ladleful at a time, starting with the saffron soaking liquid. Stir gently until the rice has absorbed the broth almost entirely, the add another ladleful of broth. Repeat, one ladleful at a time, stirring continuously, until all the broth is used. From the first addition of the broth, the risotto with take approximately 18 minutes to achieve the proper texture.
- After about 15 minutes, season the risotto lightly with salt and white pepper, and then begin tasting a grain or two of rice until the desired texture is achieved. (The rice should maintain a slight resistance at the center. When the rice has just slightly more resistance than you'd like the finished dish to have, add one more ladleful of stock and turn heat to very low.
- Add the remaining butter and about 1/2 cup of grated cheese and stir very gently to incorporate the ingredients.
- Adjust seasonings with salt and white pepper and serve.