Last week Jack and I had dinner at one of our neighborhood favorites, Aurora. Definitely not a red sauce joint-- if you want spaghetti and meatballs, you won't find it there. Instead, the menu is eclectic, and includes a lot of wild game and to die for freshly made pasta. One of the dishes was farro and beets with a perfectly grilled quail and we both immediately decided it was long past time to try making a beet risotto.
And so this weekend I gave it a try. To balance out the sweetness of the beets I decided to add roasted radicchio as well. And instead of deglazing with the usual splash of white wine I used Mirto, a digestive produced in Sardinia and made with myrtle berries and leaves.
Beet and Radicchio Risotto with Mirto
1 medium red beet
1/2 head fresh radicchio, cleaned and chopped
1 1/4 c. carnaroli or arborio rice
2 medium shallots
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 T. butter (optional)
1/2 c. Mirto
2 c. vegetable stock
2 c. water
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 oz. goat cheese
Preheat oven to 425F. Wash the beet, removing the dirt but leaving skin on, cut into quarters. Sprinkle with kosher salt, black pepper and olive oil, and place the quarters in a small pan, covering it with foil. Do the same with the half head of radicchio, but wrap it in a separate foil packet. Place the beets and radicchio in the oven to roast for about 45 minutes (until the beets are tender). Remove the beets and let cool. Unwrap the radicchio and let the leaves roast another 5 minutes or so.
When the beets are cool, peel and chop them. Chop the radicchio, as well, and set aside
Heat the stock and water together on a very low simmer.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat and add the shallots and tarragon. Saute for about five minutes and then add the risotto, stirring until the kernels begin to look shiny. Add the butter, if you're using it, and stir for another minute or two.
Pour the Mirto into the pan and saute a few minutes more, stirring until the alcohol concentrates down a little and looks thicker. Reduce the heat to medium. Add 1 cup hot broth and bring to a simmer, stirring until the broth is completely absorbed. Add the remaining stock 1/2 cup at a time, allowing it to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently, until rice is tender and mixture is creamy,--about 25 to 35 minutes longer. Add salt and pepper to taste.
When the risotto is is done toss in the goat cheese and stir until melted and incorporated. Turn off the heat and add in the roasted beets and radicchio. Fold in gently and serve immediately.