Monday, 16 January 2012

Purple Risotto

In my last post I described roasting middle rib of beef, this, obviously, left us with a couple of rib bones, and – as I mentioned in passing in that last post – of course bones = stock.  Also as mentioned, I’d served my roast ribs with pickled red cabbage, which had left me with half a head of red cabbage.  Given how well red cabbage works as an accompaniment to beef, it occurred to me to use the rest of the cabbage with at least some of the beefy stock I made from the ribs.  So I made a red cabbage risotto, which not only neatly combined the two, but also addressed the one area where risotto does rather let itself down: it’s tendency to look a little bland.  For all their virtues - and they are many, and cherished – most risotti do come out somewhere in the magnolia area of the colour chart.  Not with red cabbage in them they don’t... 

I started by toasting pine nuts in the dry pan, then added a little olive oil, a handful of shredded bacon (or you could substitute that for a couple of chopped anchovy fillets) and a sprinkling of raisins (or chopped dried apricots would also be good).  Then I stirred in the cabbage, onion (I used red onion too, just to keep with the colour theme.  As for quantities, for the two of us - although it would have been enough for three, or even four as a starter or light lunch - a quarter of a head of red cabbage and half an onion seemed good) and a finely sliced clove of garlic, cooked till starting to soften, then added the rice, wine (red instead of the usual white) and my beef stock following the normal routine.  It turned out both delicious and very pretty.

Obviously you could do a veggie version of this dish by leaving out the bacon and using vegetable stock.  Of course, that way you’d miss out on the beef/cabbage combo that suggested it to me in the first place, but I’m sure it would still be delicious (particularly if you were still allowed the anchovies in place of the bacon), and perhaps above all, it would still come out that lovely, and unusual, deep purple colour.

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