Bold and Pungent- Blue Cheese Risotto

Sunday, December 5, 2004

blue cheese risotto with bacon, hazelnuts and pear sauceTomorrow is my workplace’s declared Bold and Pungent Holiday Party. Being a bunch of scientists, I guess we’re keen to have this pseudo-religious festivity stuff out of the way as soon as possible, hence why the party is held at the beginning of the month.

With a declaration of “Bold and Pungent!” I can’t help but think of my new Cheesus (see Religious Conversion and accept the word of our Cheese, Blue Cheese, as your true savour, so help you Chesse, Amen), and being the good disciple that I am, I am prepared to spread the word. Ronald at IMBB has given me an OK sign that my blue cheese vision is alright, so I’m ready to unveil my blue cheese risotto on my work place.

I went through a couple tests this weekend (I think my poor Sweetie is risotto’ed out), and have a good meaty and vegetarian version:

blue cheese risotto with bacon, hazelnuts and pear sauceSmokey Blue Cheese Risotto with Almonds and Pear Sauce

In a medium sized sauce pan, heat approximately 3 cups of vegetable broth* with a pinch of saffron to just under a simmer. Keep this nice and warm, not boiling, on a back burner.

In a second pan, prepare your pear sauce. over medium heat add:

  • three peeled, sliced and cored pears [or one can of pears in juice, drained, reserving liquid]
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup of pear juice or wine or water

Simmer over medium heat while preparing your risotto, approximatley 30 minutes. Mash your fruit to small sized chunks, or blend to make smooth.

In your designated risotto pan [wow, you're going to have three pans going at once! Good job, now you're cooking!], heat on medium:

  • 1 Tbs of olive oil
  • 1 Tbs butter

Add to risotto pan and saute:

  • 3/4 of a small onion, diced
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp salt

When your onion is translucent [I actually like to take mine to golden around the edges], add to the saute pan:

  • 1 1/2 cups of arborio rice
  • 1 Tbs butter

and bring heat up to med high, stiring your rice almost constantly, for approximately 1-2minutes, not allowing the rice to color.

Now, procede to make your risotto in the traditional style:

  • add to your sauted rice a good splash of white wine, stiring constantly. [I used headbutt's Vintners Reserve throughout the cooking of this dish and enjoyed it.]
  • add one ladle of your warm, backburnered broth, at a time, stirring almost constantly
  • when the broth has been absorbed by the rice mixture, add another ladle of broth
  • continue ladling and stiring until the rice is just cooked all the way through, approximately 20-25 minutes
  • I like my last liquid addition to be wine rather than broth, so add a splash here at the end

Turn off the heat and stir in to your risotto:

  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1/3 lb of blue cheese, crumbled [I used a variety called Fourme D' Ambert]
  • about 3 Tbs grated parmigiano reggiano
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup smoked roasted almonds, bashed a bit into chunks [roasted hazelnuts work very well too]

Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Plate risotto, splash a wave of the pear sauce over the top and sprinkle with any leftover nut bits you may have.

*For a meaty version, I used chicken broth, and added fried up bacon bits (about 3-4 slices worth) to the dish at the end.


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