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Caramelized Carrot Risotto

The combination of the sweet carrots, savory chicken stock and earthy sage is irresistible. Use vegetable broth to make this dish vegetarian.

1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
4 sprigs fresh sage, divided
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced fine
2 cups peeled and finely chopped carrots
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Additional sage leaves and shredded parmesan, as garnish, if desired
Pour the chicken or vegetable stock into a medium pan with three sage sprigs and bring to a simmer. Remove 3 or 4 leaves from the remaining sage sprig and chop fine or chiffonade and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a large Dutch oven or heavy pan over medium heat. Place the olive oil in the pan and swirl to coat the bottom. Add the minced onion and cook over medium-high heat for one or two minutes, or until the onions are just soft. Add the chopped carrots and stir continuously until the onions and carrots begin to brown slightly, about five minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for one additional minute, being careful not to let the mixture burn. Add the rice and stir to coat with the carrot mixture.

Remove sage sprigs from hot stock; discard. Ladle about 1 cup hot stock over the rice, stirring constantly over medium heat, until the rice absorbs most of the stock. Repeat process, adding 1/2 cup stock at a time and stirring until each addition is absorbed before adding the next, until rice is al dente - about 20-25 minutes.

Stir in the white wine, then the butter, chopped fresh sage leaves and shredded parmesan cheese. Continuing stirring until butter has melted and the cheese is well incorporated. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Garnish with fresh sage leaves or additional shredded parmesan cheese, if desired.
Serves 2-3 as a main course; up to six as an starter.

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