Risotto is creamy, beautiful comfort food, and I can’t think of a better meal to make it for than Thanksgiving. Because it’s not a fix it and walk away kind of dish, I do not make it for weekday meals. The constant stirring and adding liquid demands careful attention, and the usual chaos surrounding our meal times prevents me from tackling anything involved on a weeknight.
This recipe from Marcella Hazan calls for quite a bit of sage, though it’s not overpowering. If you prefer you can make it with half the leaves and still enjoy a hint of sage, which will go beautifully with a turkey dinner. Hazan uses homemade meat stock, though I substituted homemade vegetable stock made with mushrooms for a slightly woodsy undertone. The finishing step, mantecare, gives risotto its characteristic gleam and adds to the natural creaminess. In this case, Hazan adds the sage at the end and finishes with a little butter and some Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Our sage, mint, parsley, oregano, and thyme are still going strong outdoors, amazing considering the cold temperatures we’ve had. Many varieties of sage die off after a frost, but the Woodcote variety that we have in our Zone 7a (but right on the edge of 6b) garden has persisted even with temperatures well below freezing at night, so we will be able to use it on Thanksgiving day as well.
This is my contribution to Grow Your Own, a blogging event that celebrates the dishes we create from foods we’ve grown, raised, foraged, or hunted ourselves. Rachel of The Crispy Cook is our host for this round, so be sure to visit her blog for more information about submitting your post. If you are new to the event, you can read more about the rules for participating at the Grow Your Own page.
RISOTTO WITH ONIONS AND SAGE
Adapted from Marcella Cucina, by Marcella Hazan.
large pot with heavy bottom
1-1/2 cups very thinly sliced onion, about 1-1/2 medium onions
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 cups (1.2 liters) vegetable stock (with mushrooms) or homemade meat broth (not stock) or 1/2 cup canned beef broth diluted with 4-1/2 cups water
1-1/2 cups (248 g) arborio rice or other imported Italian rice
2 tablespoons butter
16 to 20 fresh sage leaves, cut into strips (I don’t think the flavor is strong, but if you prefer you could cut back to about 10 leaves and get just a hint of sage.)
3/4 cup fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
salt, to taste
1. Put the sliced onions, olive oil, butter, and a pinch of salt into the pot. Turn the heat to medium and cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until it’s very soft. The onions should be completely wilted and a tawny gold color.
2. When the onions are just about done, warm the broth in a sauce pan or in the microwave. Keep it at a simmer or reheat in the microwave as necessary while cooking the risotto. Temperature is important for cooking properly.
3. Increase the heat on the onions to medium-high and stir in the rice. Turn it thoroughly, making sure every grain comes in contact with the onions. You want the rice to take on that color and shine.
4. Add 1 cup of the warm broth and stir well, scraping down the sides and bottom of the pot as you go. You don’t want any grains to stick. When the liquid is gone, add more, about 1/2 cup at a time. Stir and repeat until the liquid is used up and the rice is tender but still ad dente. The process takes about 25 minutes.
5. MANTECARE: Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and sage strips. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Make Ahead Tip
You can cook the onions ahead of time and warm them before continuing with the remaining steps.