Caramel Chestnut Risotto


This is a dish that was inspired by something similar-ish we had on our trip to Ticino in the autumn. It was creamy and sweet yet savoury. I wanted to recreate that and so made it up as I went along and am very happy with how it came out! I had whey left over from making ricotta (that I used in the White Lasagne) so I used that as the cooking liquid. Whey itself is salted and a little acidic while also still being dairy, so it brought some of all of that to the dish. It was less creamy and rich than making risotto with milk (which was desirable, given the caramel chestnuts), and less acidic than using white wine, and less salty than store bought stock. Instead it brought a lovely balance of all these flavours. If you don't happen to have extra whey on hand, I would use some milk and maybe a dash of lemon juice at the end. Given the season, the chestnuts were frozen, but they worked well nonetheless.


Ingredients:

300g Arborio rice

2 onions, chopped

1/2 head of garlic, chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

1 l whey

0,5 - 1 l water

1 tsp sumac

1 tbsp butter

1 c parmesan

pepper


250g chestnuts

2 tbsp butter

1/3 c ground almonds

1/3 - 1/2 c sugar

2 tsp molasses

1 c water

1 c milk

1/4 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp ginger


1) Heat oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan and sauté onions and garlic for 3-4 minutes, then add rice. Stir until rice begins to go translucent as well. Add whey. Stir almost constantly (this is what allows the rice to release its starches, and keeps it from burning).

2) In a separate saucepan, melt the butter and stir in chestnuts, allowing them to cook through slowly for about 2 minutes, add the almonds, sugar, molasses, spices and water and cook, stirring regularly. Add milk when the caramel has started to form, and taste test for sugar. Remove from heat and cover

3) Once all the liquid is absorbed by the rice, add the water gradually, not adding more than necessary. Add sumac and pepper and stir. Once the rice is cooked and has thickened, add the butter and cheese. Stir.

4) At this point, either add the chestnuts into the risotto and stir it in, mixing thoroughly before dishing, or serve the rice and spoon chestnuts and caramel over the top. Depending on how vigorously you stir, the chestnuts might start to fall apart, but this is ok.


The consensus on this from my sister, hubby, Little Bit and myself is that it was a success. I thought that the caramel chestnut concentration could be higher, and that the proportion of those could be increased by half. My sister and hubby didn't think so. Beyond this though, it was well balanced, creamy and very very tasty! I highly recommend this to anyone who can be bothered stirring a risotto and is in the mood for comfort food.



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