An inability to fall asleep on a given night usually leads to at least one, if not both, of the following activities: 1) The major abuse of my Netflix account via my 360 (streaming is seriously dangerous to ones’ health); and 2) Some incredibly adventurous meals at extremely odd hours. Tonight has been one of the more fortuitous of these evenings. I had every intention of going to sleep at a decent hour, but as luck would have it … I made one of my best impromptu meals ever.
This past weekend, I went on one of one of my typical impulse grocery runs. These start off as nothing more than an interlude during some errands or in the midst of a trip to who knows where for who knows what. When I walk into the market, I peruse the isles with no plan, no list, and no real end goal. I actually made a few said trips this weekend, and came home with a cornucopia of goods. I got hungry around 2 o’clock this AM, so I raided my fridge, pulled out my favorite Henkle, and went to work.
The nasty weather outside meant only one thing would do: comfort food. My new found hobby (this blog), led me to do something really unusual … DOCUMENT WHAT I DID!!!! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made some really kick ass food – only to have it lost in oblivion as I failed to take notes. Ah, but I digress.
Back on track, I opened the fridge, pulled out a protein and some veggies, and then looked at my grains. I had some chicken stock that I made the other day, as well as a some tomato puree. Bell pepper risotto it was! For a little kick, I decided to use a spicy chorizo I grabbed while up on Buford Highway this weekend.
Step 1: Peppers
The first thing to do was roast my peppers. I heated my oven as high as it would go and cleaned the peppers while the oven got hot. Cleaning peppers is pretty straight forward. You wash them and then take out the seeds and the stem. After discarding all of that, you can essentially filet the pepper so that you are left with several flat slices. Place them (skin side up) on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; then, leave them in the oven until they are nicely charred. Depending on your oven, this should take somewhere around 15-25 minutes. Just keep an eye on them. When you see them blister, it’s time to yank ‘em out. After they cool, you can remove the skins and strip the peppers.
Step 2: Chorizo
This step is pretty straight forward. Remove and discard the chorizo, then cube it so that each “slice” is approximately dimed size. Then, place your pan over medium heat, add the chorizo and some oil. I use approximately one tablespoon of oil for every two ounces of chorizo. If you are eyeballing this, play it safe with the oil. The juices from the chorizo help to reduce the need for too much oil. In this case, I had about 1.5 ounces of chorizo.
Step 3: Risotto
When I have all day to cook, I use a much more in depth approach to my risotto. That said, this method works just fine.
Take your butter and toss it in a large saucepan. Similar to how you cooked the chorizo, do this over a medium heat. Next, take your shallot and dried pepper flakes, and sauté them for a few minutes. The key here is to not brown the mix.
Next, add the rice and tomato purée or paste. If what you are using is store bought, I would shy away from relying on tomato paste or sauce. I happened to have some homemade purée sitting around, so it worked out great. Paste tends to be too think for risotto and most sauces have a bunch of additives. Now is the time to toss in your wine. Any red should suffice here.
Stir the rice for a couple of minutes, then add the broth. What you want to do here is add the broth in stages. Make sure you stir consistently throughout this process. You should have a 10-15 minute window (give or take) to play with the risotto. Here you can add in your salt and pepper, and anything else you might want to flavor it with.
Add in your roasted red peppers and the thyme, and cook for an additional three minutes. You should have a fairly creamy consistency in your risotto. Remove from the heat and add your cheese, as well as the salt and pepper to taste. I also used the oil from my frying pan. Top with with the chorizo and dollop on the mascarpone (I actually turned my mascarpone into a mouse … but that’s another story).
I apologize I was not more diligent in measuring my ingredients. I always enjoy playing around with my food – so I don’t get to precise with the ingredients. Just remember to taste as you go along and add spices little by little until you get it just right. What you see here is a “best guess” at the volume of ingredients used.
1.5 oz chorizo
aprox. 7 oz. risotto rice
grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese (or something from that family)
1.5 tbsp tomato purée
1 can of chicken stock
2-3 tbsp butter
1-1.5 tbsp olive oil
dried pepper flakes
1 large shallot, finely chopped
fresh thyme leaves
1 shot of red wine
1 dollop of mascarpone
note: the pictures in this post are not from this evening!