Rhubarb & Port Risotto
I’m about to do two things: pull out my thesaurus and dust off a rather old draft that’s been waiting for its fifteen seconds of SFTF fame for quite awhile. Alrighty, now let’s skim this tattered thesaurus and find all the possible synonyms for “decadent”. Whoa! I’m not crazy, right? Decadent, as applied to food at least, is a good thing, isn’t it? My thesaurus has words like “corrupt”, “degenerate”, “dissolute”, and “self-indulgent”.
Well, I guess “self-indulgent” isn’t too far off the mark as a descriptive for this Rhubarb and Port Risotto. But maybe I should just stick with “decadent” and not try to stretch my vocabulary any more. As recently as this past August I made my very first risotto and only had one small regret: it was steamy hot summer. Risottos are definitely a dish for cold days.
Rhubarb’s gorgeous red hue always inspires me, as does its tangy fruity flavor. I got my last bunch of it when the chill of autumn had set in and risotto had come back to the forefront of my mind. How beautiful would a creamy risotto infused with the pink blush of rhubarb look? This beautiful, of course.
Lucky for me, I didn’t have to dream up the recipe from scratch. My lovely food blogger acquaintance, Mohini, over at Mango Power Girl, had already come up with a solid recipe that also included Port wine, my favorite spirit. The flavors of rhubarb and port mingled together are rich and robust with just enough zip to cut the sweet creaminess of the rice before it becomes overpowering.
I really like this recipe. In fact, I love this recipe! I’d go so far as to say it’s among the top ten all-time best dishes to come out of the SFTF kitchen. Unfortunately, the ephemeral season for rhubarb is over, and for that I apologize since it was my own disorganization that kept you from getting to promptly try this for yourself. But won’t you please bookmark this post or print it off to use come spring when these ruby stalks are back at the farmers market? It’s worth the wait.
Rhubarb & Port Risotto
Adapted from Mango Power Girl
2-3 large stems of rhubarb, sliced into small pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1 t. fresh lemon juice
1 T. tawny port wine, such as Crofts
2 T. butter
1/2 cup Arborio rice
3 cups milk
1 t. sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 t. cinnamon
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, add the rhubarb, ¼ cup of sugar, and lemon juice. Let them heat to a simmer. Add the port and simmer for several minutes until the port reduces and the mixture thickens. Take the rhubarb mixture off the heat and set it aside to cool.
In a small saucepan over low heat, simmer the milk, teaspoon of sugar and vanilla bean (pod and scraped beans). Be sure the heat is very low so the milk never boils. Leave the milk there while you work with the risotto.
Melt 1 ½ tablespoons of butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the rice and let it cook for a couple minutes, stirring. Add about half a cup of milk at a time to the rice, constantly stirring until all the liquid is absorbed before you add the next half cup.
Once you add the last of the milk, and while you are still stirring, add the cinnamon. Taste the risotto to make sure it is cooked; it should be creamy and chewy. If not, add a little more milk until it is. Generally, the total cook time for the risotto is 20 minutes. Right before the risotto is finished, add the remaining half tablespoon of butter and stir until melted (this gives the risotto a nice sheen and richness).
Take the risotto off the heat and mix in the cooled rhubarb compote, saving a spoonful to top off each serving. Serve the dish right away, while still warm, for the best flavor.
(makes 4 small servings)