Friday, May 21, 2010

Springing Surprises

When My Beloved's daughter Katie came over the other day for her birthday celebration, she sprang a surprise on us - a diamond engagement ring! We were both floored and delighted. We have always approved of her taste in boyfriends but this last one has been the best of all. He did a good job with the proposal, too - romantic setting, fine champagne and a ring he designed himself. We like this guy. Happy news, indeed.

During the celebratory evening, Katie dropped another little idea bomb for me - as we were enjoying the rack of lamb I prepared for her birthday party, she mentioned that she had made risotto with lamb broth. Lamb broth! My imagination was already tasting that risotto.

I collected all the bones from that rack and from the one we couldn't finish that night to make lamb broth, which I did a few days later in preparation for making the risotto. I simply covered the bones with water and simmered them for a couple of hours, removed the bones, and refrigerated the resulting broth to skim the fat the next day.

On Risotto Day, I assembled about eight beautiful fresh green asparagus spears, cut into 1" pieces; a handful of crimini mushrooms; 1/2 onion, chopped; 1/2 cup of white wine; fresh chives and oregano; 3/4 of a cup of arborio rice; 1/3 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese; and about 2-1/4 cups of the lamb broth. Arborio, vino, herbo cipolina, cipolla, oregano, crimini, Parmesano Reggiano, agnello - isn't Italian a wonderful language? I love all those vowel sounds.

Anyway, I started by setting the broth to warm on a separate burner, then sautéing the onions in about 2 tablespoons of butter until they were clear, then adding the sliced criminis (stems removed - their stems are tough) to sauté for a few more minutes before adding the rice to cook in the butter with the flavorings until it showed a white center. I poured in the wine and stirred over a medium heat; once the wine was absorbed, I began adding the warm lamb broth a ladle at a time, stirring after each addition.*

As the rice neared the finished state, I added the asparagus, the chopped oregano and continued cooking and stirring until the asparagus were brightly green and just tender, then added the cheese and chives to stir in before serving in shallow bowls. I didn't add any salt as the cheese can be salty but we each sprinkled a little salt and pepper once we had tasted; it needed a little more. Spoons work better than forks for risotto.

This meal seems like the essence of spring - the bright asparagus, the herbs just heading to flowering, the rich, silky rice. It was a lovely surprise, too, to have the lamby undertones to what is usually a chickeny sort of dish. We like all the surprises Katie brings to our lives, especially this fun guy.

*Some recipes say that you must stir constantly but I find that stirring after each addition of broth is plenty - just keep an eye on the pot as you don't want to burn it.

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Blogger Ms Brown Mouse said...

Mmmm lamb broth risotto is something we'll have to give a go. And congratulations to Katie, wonderful news indeed.

Friday, May 21, 2010  
Blogger katiez said...

Congrats on the engagement! Sounds terribly romantic ;-))
As to the risotto - sounds terribly perfect. Lamb broth.... what a marvelous idea.
I do hate to see risotto season come to an end (sigh!) but it's only for a few months.....

Friday, May 21, 2010  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

What a nice celebration.
Lamb (and other) bones: You want to steal them off the plates of diners at your table (after they've eaten). You might be able to get away with this secretly in the kitchen, but if not, be bold about it.
The risotto is so pretty, and I can only imagine how tasty it was.

Friday, May 21, 2010  
Blogger Alejandra Ramos said...

Lamb broth sounds perfect! I've never made it that way but now I want to try.

Friday, May 21, 2010  
Blogger Louis la Vache said...

Congratulations to Katie!
The lamb broth risotto sounds fabulous!

Saturday, May 22, 2010  
Blogger peter said...

Lamb stock is so underrated. It is wicked with Vietnamese flavors too: charred onion and ginger, star anise, cinnamon, and clove. Great for noodle soups or tagines, too, since Morocco isn't too far from that combination.

Monday, May 24, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Ms Mouse, after your lamb extravaganza last night, I hope you saved all your bones!

KatieZ, I don't think I knew there was a season to risotto; I make it when I have ingredients that beg for it.

Cookiecrumb, I did take the bones off every plate and made no bones about it!

Alejandra, you'll be glad you did - it's a big little difference.

Louis, I'm keeping even restaurant bones these days for broth! You get a funny look from the waiter when you ask for a doggy bag just for the bones, but what the heck!

Peter, noodle soups with lamb broth - OMG! Must try! That would put the zing back in My Beloved's step!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010  

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