Bruno Bloody Beets Barbabietola
From Pierre Lamielle, chef, author, from his clever, cheeky book Kitchen Scraps
Unless you are lucky enough to have someone like Bruno to do your dirty work, you are going to have to get your own hands dirty with this job. The hours are long, but the result is bloody good risotto, and it will certainly be a good opportunity to prove dedication to the family. When handling the beets try some rubber gloves or risk getting caught red-handed.
8 tiny red beets, peeled and halved
8 c. water with 2 T. kosher or sea salt
3 T. olive oil
1 white onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 c. arborio rice
1 cup red wine
3 T. butter
splash of red wine vinegar
salt to taste
8 oz. ricotta (for homemade ricotta, see recipe below
1/2 c. toasted pine nuts or hazelnuts
fresh-cracked pepper and olive oil
Get two large pots on the stove. Put the beet halves in one of the pots and cover with the water and salt. Bring to a boil on high, then reduce to medium heat. Usually you would use stock to make risotto, but the water the beets are cooking in will also act as the risotto’s flavour and colour enhancer.
Place the other pot over medium, heat the oil, and sweat the onions and garlic until soft and translucent, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the arborio and stir to coat the individual grains with oil. Add the red wine, and stir until the boozy smell evaporates.
Now add 1 ladleful of the hot beet-cooking liquid, and stir to distribute. When the liquid evaporates a bit and the rice is no longer soupy you can ladle in more beet water. Continue this progression of ladling and stirring and ladling and stirring until all the beet water has been used and the rice is creamy and cooked with just a little bite to it.
With only the beets left in the pot, add the butter and sauté until the beets are well covered and glossy. Add a splash of red wine vinegar and a sprinkle of salt to taste.
Serve the risotto in shallow bowls with 4 pieces of beet arranged on top, a scoop of ricotta, and a scattering of toasted nuts. Finish it off with a good crack of black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
Serves 6 bloody-hungry family members.
Making the Ricotta:
Try making your own ricotta sometime. It’s not really about saving money (only about $1 per batch) but more about the flavour, which is awesome if you use organic milk. Plus you can add flavours of your own.
Place 16 c. (4 quarts) of whole milk in a large pot and bring to a light simmer. Add 1/4 c. of vinegar (plain white vinegar is the most neutral, but you can use any kind, and even lemon juice) and stir it once. Remove from the heat and put a lid on it. Let it sit for 1 hour.
Place a colander in a large bowl, and line the colander with a double layer of cheesecloth.
In the pot, the milk will have separated into cheese curds. Gently transfer the curds using a slotted spoon to the colander, making sure to get every last ricotta nugget.
Allow the ricotta to drain for at least an hour or overnight in the fridge, depending on how firm and dry you want it.