Juliet Glass has developed three fun recipes for the April 2008 issue of Sunset Magazine, "3 ways with Fresh Carrots". The carrots seem extra sweet this spring, and I thought caramelized carrots sounded like a good idea, so I tested the Caramelized Carrot Risotto.
The risotto was very delicious, but it was a bit time-consuming and requires a few more steps than a usual risotto - including using a food processor to puree half of the caramelized carrots... but the result was quite lovely and very pretty. I think I will rework this another time and use carrot juice instead of whirling the carrots. I followed the recipe exactly, except I made only half. This resulted in a lot of left-over mascarpone... tiramisu anyone?
Caramelized Carrot Risotto
Delicate mascarpone cheese is a natural companion to sweet caramelized carrots in this brightly hued risotto. Prep and Cook Time: 1 1/4 hours. Notes: To make this risotto even prettier, you can cut the carrots into 1/4-in. dice (it's time-consuming, but makes the carrots look like little jewels). Mascarpone—a rich Italian-style cream cheese available at specialty, gourmet, and Whole Foods stores—can be replaced with an equal amount of heavy cream.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided 6 medium carrots, peeled and chopped as finely and evenly as possible (about 3 cups; see Notes) About 1/2 tsp. salt 1 teaspoon sugar 5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth 1/3 cup minced onion 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice 1/2 cup dry white wine 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese 1/4 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese, plus 1/2 cup for garnish 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus 1 tbsp. for garnish 1 teaspoon roughly chopped fresh thyme 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1. Heat 1 tbsp. oil and 1 tbsp. butter over medium heat in a medium heavy-bottomed pot; add carrots and stir with a wooden spoon until well coated. Add 1/2 cup water, 1/2 tsp. salt, and the sugar; cover and cook 5 minutes, or until tender. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until water evaporates and carrots are just starting to brown, a few minutes more. Reserve half of the carrots. In a blender, purée other half with 3/4 cup hot water.
2. Bring chicken broth to a simmer and keep at a simmer, covered, over low heat.
3. Heat remaining oil and butter over medium heat in same (unwashed) pot used for carrots. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add rice, stirring with a wooden spoon to coat rice with oil, 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring, until wine evaporates. Add carrot purée and cook, stirring, until mixture no longer looks soupy.
4. Add 1/2 cup hot broth, stirring often, until rice absorbs most of the liquid. Repeat process, adding 1/2 cup broth at a time and stirring often till each addition is absorbed before adding the next, until rice is al dente (about 20 minutes; at least 1 cup broth will remain).
5. Fold in reserved carrots (save 2 tbsp. for garnish), mascarpone, 1/4 cup parmesan, 1 tbsp. parsley, and the thyme. Add up to 1 cup broth (1/4 cup at a time) to loosen the risotto. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.
6. Sprinkle each bowl of risotto with some of remaining 1/2 cup parmesan, remaining 1 tbsp. parsley, and reserved carrots. Serve immediately.
Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.
Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings as a side dish or first course
Sunset, APRIL 2008 (print the recipe at Sunset.com)
Caramelized Carrot Risotto
Served with baby greens tossed with olive oil, vinegar and blue cheese
NOTES: I used home-made double-strength chicken stock, which was possibly a little too-much for the carrots. I advise using a vegetable broth. This recipe can be made vegan by using vegetable stock (and how about a little carrot juice?) and omitting the butter and cheese and it would still be delicious.
VERDICT: The flavors are right, but the recipe did not need to be so complicated.