I believe practice makes Risotto.  So for my second ever attempt, the first being Michelle Bernstein’s (my favorite Miami Chef) Red Wine with Chorizo Risotto, I decided to make Sean Brock’s (a fav Charleston chef) Ratatouille Risotto.  Featured in this month’s Esquire and touted as easy and quick (and hardly any butter ?!) I gave it a whirl.  Easy and quick? Not necessarily.  Delicious? Absolutely.  Learned from practice?  More butter.

http://www.esquire.com/features/guy-food/ratatouille-risotto-0810  

Recipe calls for a saucepan for the stock and stockpot for the sofrito and risotto. I instead use a stockpot for the stock and my 3.5 qt. Le Creuset braiser to cook the risotto.  

1 1/2 cups of each of the following, diced (about one small vegetable of each type):
bell pepper (any color)
Japanese eggplant
zucchini
yellow squash

  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • a few basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • leaves from a few thyme sprigs
  • 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped

 Put all ingredients in a bowl. Toss to coat and spread on a large baking sheet; overcrowding will cause vegetables to sweat rather than brown. Place in preheated 450 degree oven and don’t mess with it. Roast until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove and reserve.

 THE STARTER

  • 15-oz can San Marzano tomatoes, drained (liquid reserved)
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small shallots, minced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

 Pour tomato liquid into a saucepan and add vegetable stock. Bring to boil, then lower heat to simmer. Keep this mixture hot during the cooking process. Place tomatoes in a bowl and mash them into chunks using the back of a wooden spoon. Don’t pulverize or the tomatoes will disintegrate.

 THE PROCESS

Using a 6- or 8-quart stockpot, melt butter and heat olive oil together over low heat. Add shallots and garlic, cooking slowly until aromatics look almost like a puree (called sofrito). Do not brown. This will take about 10 minutes. · Remove sofrito, blot the pot with a paper towel, and return it to the stove over medium heat. Note the time on the clock. Add rice and use a wooden spoon to move it around the pot so it toasts and starts to smell a little nutty — 4 or 5 minutes. · Add wine and slowly cook it down, gently stirring. Add sofrito, stirring to coat. Begin adding hot stock about 1/2 cup at a time and stir after each addition until liquid is absorbed, so rice loses its starch and thickens the mixture. Toss in bay leaves after the third addition of stock. About 15 minutes into the cooking, add tomatoes. · You might not end up using all the tomato-stock liquid. When rice is al dente — after about 25 or 30 minutes total — take the pot off the heat and gently add ratatouille. Sprinkle in zest to add brightness, and stir in cheese. Salt to taste. · Serve with extra cheese and a pepper grinder on the side.

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