Time seems to pass quicker all the time, and before I know it, it’s nearly Thanksgiving again, and hockey’s on TV and I need to have my boots re-heeled and somehow I still haven’t done any of the things I’d planned to by now, and it’s colder so the excuses to not do things get stronger all the time. Why work on that grad school application when I could curl up in my Snuggie with a book? Why finish writing those chapters when I could wander out for hot chocolate, stepping on all the crunchy-looking leaves along the way? Why stay late at work to finish a project when I could go home and make risotto?
Maybe I’m too hard on myself. I have reference letters, and a third of a manuscript together to send in with my MFA application, with a month to go before it’s due. I am writing, and the writing is going well and someday maybe a book will come out of it. And sometimes you just need to decide you can’t stare at a computer screen for even ten more minutes and come home and make risotto.
Maybe I’m too hard on myself, or maybe I’m lying to myself, but either way, it’s important to achieve small things every day so that the big things don’t seem so insurmountable.
The risotto on offer today is one that qualifies for Meatless Monday, but you’ll notice that it’s Tuesday now and there are perfectly pink medallions of pork tenderloin on the plate. Ignore those if you found this via the Meatless Monday website; the risotto is what’s really important here.
Risotto with currants, almonds, and orange
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 cup dried currants
- 2 tsp. orange zest
- 2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 3 to 4 cups warm chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
- Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large pan, caramelize the onion in the olive oil. Start with high heat, and then drop the heat down when the bits of onion turn just the faintest bit golden. Brown the hell out of them, stirring often enough, and let them go as long as you can stand it. The browner the better. I left mine in the pan to brown for forty minutes, until the onion was a shadow of its former self. However, I understand that not everyone dreams all day of coming home to make dinner, so go with your own judgment and preference here.
Bring heat back up to medium-high, and add in your garlic, dried currants, orange zest, rosemary, and rice. Cook for about a minute, until rice has begun to turn opaque. De-glaze the pan with the wine and orange juice. Stir the rice continuously until the liquid is absorbed.
Add one cup of the warm chicken stock, stirring frequently until liquid is mostly absorbed. Repeat with an additional cup of stock, and then repeat again with one to two more cups as needed. Test your rice for tenderness. The idea is to get it to al denté, but if it isn’t there yet, just pour in a little bit more stock, as needed, and let it absorb into the rice.
Your currants will have plumped, and the smell will be intoxicating. Add Parmesan cheese and butter. Taste, adjust seasonings as needed. And then, at long last, add almonds.
You can serve this as a main dish to two people, or as a side dish for four. As always, this is a recipe that’s easily multiplied, so if you want to feed four, just double it.
It’s a rich dish. Sweet and savory, creamy with a bit of crunch, earthy with rosemary and deeply browned onions, but bright with citrus and just a hint of wine. Beautiful with gently braised pork or lamb, or perfect on its own, with crusty bread and a few bites of roasted stone fruit. Peaches are just about done, but plums are gorgeous right now. Apples would be nice as well. And you’ll find that once you’ve tackled dinner, everything else becomes a little easier to manage; maybe I will write a chapter this evening, or a cover letter. And there’s always tomorrow, which is reliable as long as you don’t let it dissolve into the next day, and the ones after that.