Tomorrow, I begin my 2 week food cleanse – Italian food blogger style! (Look for healthful Italian recipes throughout the coming weeks!) Half of Our Italian Table, the east coast half :-), is foregoing some vices (vino, caffeine, grains, dairy) for a few weeks to give this little ‘ole body a break from the excesses of the holiday season and get revved up for the year ahead! I know you are probably thinking – ‘yea, good luck with that!’ (But seriously, join me if you can and send me your favorite recipes and we will post them! Or just lighten up the load over the coming weeks and eat healthful along with us. me :-)).
But for today, this first day of another magical year, we are welcoming in the days ahead with a delicate, simple artichoke risotto served with a fondue on top (ok, maybe not so light but I had to use this very cool new artichoke bowl I got as a Christmas present!). I first had this risotto when I was fortunate enough to spend a few chilly but refreshing nights in Piedmonte on a winter business trip. (I still remember the taste of that magical dish – except that one had a delicate white truffle shaved atop. My, oh my!) I thought this would be the perfect dish to serve with the last of the Prosecco and a few simple grilled sausages. Unfortunately, no truffles in sight today. (And please do not use truffle oil – which I recently learned is nothing more than a chemically induced form of a truffle!)
So here is to wishing each and every one of you a very, very happy and prosperous new year – may it be filled with magic each and every day! In the words of one of my favorite little characters,
Artichoke Risotto with Fondue (Risotto ai Carciofi con Fonduta)
- 8 ounces Fontina cheese
- ½ cup milk, lukewarm
- About 5 cups unsalted chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- 8 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and sliced in half
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
- ½ cup dry white wine (I used some remaining Prosecco from last eve)
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
- 1 small truffle (yum! – but optional)
Cut the Fontina cheese into small cubes. Place in a small bowl (that you will place on top of a double boiler later) and add in the warm milk. Allow the cheese to soak in the milk while you make the fondue.
Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Lower heat to a simmer. Cover; keep warm. (Hint: Use the same pan that you will use to melt the fontina later – save on the cleanup!)
In a large sauté pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add in the onions and saute until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pat the artichoke hearts dry if damp from the thaw. Add to the pan and sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Add in the rice. Stir for about 2 minutes to toast the outside of the rice slightly. Add in the wine and simmer, stirring occasionally, until almost all the wine has been absorbed, about 5 minutes or so.
Add in 1/2 cup of the warm stock. Cook until absorbed, stirring, about 5 minutes. Add additional stock, ½ cupful at a time. Allow each addition to be absorbed before adding the next. Stir often. Keep adding stock until the rice is creamy and tender. This should take about 15-20 minutes in total. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Keep warm.
In the top of a double boiler, set the bowl with the Fontina and milk over barely simmering water. Stir until the cheese has melted. Add in the egg yolk and stir to incorporate. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place the risotto in the center of a warmed serving bowl. Form a well in the center and place the fondue in the center. Shave the truffle on top and serve! Mix the fondue into the risotto as you serve into each individual serving bowl.