Braised Lamb Chops & Asparagus Risotto

I’ve classified this under “Danielle’s Favorite Meals.”

There’s really not much to say about this dish: it was amazing, and it’s definitely a pairing I want to store in my virtual cookbook and bring out when I want to woo someone or prove to people that I am sophisticated…

Once in a rare while I will come up with an original “recipe” (i.e. I’ll throw whatever I have in the fridge together in a makeshift dinner), but usually I steal other people’s tested recipes for my kitchen. Sometimes they are fantastic, others are… well, not so fantastic. That’s where this blog comes in. I want to be able to remember the good ones and let the other failed recipes fade away like a bad trip to Souplantation.

In this case, both the balsamic reduction and risotto were recipes I found online, and both turned out amazing. I’ve just copied and pasted them here- don’t judge me. I’m way too tired and behind in posts to type out these recipe and  add my personalized notes to them, and since I didn’t change much of anything in either one, there’s no need to.

Lamb & Balsamic Reduction a la All Recipes:

Ingredients

  • 3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 lamb chops (3/4 inch thick)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 1/3 cup aged balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions

  1. In a small bowl or cup, mix together the rosemary, basil, thyme, salt and pepper. Rub this mixture onto the lamb chops on both sides. Place them on a plate, cover and set aside for 15 minutes to absorb the flavors.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place lamb chops in the skillet, and cook for about 3 1/2 minutes per side for medium rare, or continue to cook to your desired doneness. Remove from the skillet, and keep warm on a serving platter.
  3. Add shallots to the skillet, and cook for a few minutes, just until browned. Stir in vinegar, scraping any bits of lamb from the bottom of the skillet, then stir in the chicken broth. Continue to cook and stir over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until the sauce has reduced by half. If you don’t, the sauce will be runny and not good. Remove from heat, and stir in the butter. Pour over the lamb chops, and serve.

Asparagus Risotto a la New York Times

Adapted from Mario Batali

Time: 45 minutes

1 pound asparagus, peeled, trimmed and cut into one-inch-long pieces, tips reserved
4 to 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 medium red onion, diced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
Salt to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add half the asparagus stalks and cook until quite soft, at least 5 minutes. Rinse quickly under cold water. Put cooked asparagus in a blender or food processor and add just enough water to allow machine to puree until smooth; set aside.

2. Put stock in a medium saucepan over low heat. Put oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, add onion, stirring occasionally until it softens, 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is glossy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add white wine, stir, and let liquid bubble away. Add a large pinch of salt. Add warmed stock, 1/2 cup or so at a time, stirring occasionally. Each time stock has just about evaporated, add more.

4. After about 15 minutes, add remaining asparagus pieces and tips, continuing to add stock when necessary. In 5 minutes, begin tasting rice. You want it to be tender but with a bit of crunch; it could take as long as 30 minutes total to reach this stage. When it does, stir in 1/2 cup asparagus puree. Remove skillet from heat, add remaining butter and stir briskly. Add Parmesan and stir briskly, then taste and adjust seasoning. Risotto should be slightly soupy. Serve immediately.

Yield: 3 to 4 servings.

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Mushroom Risotto: A Step-By-Step Guide

I normally loathe making step-by-step guides. When I cook and am in the zone, it’s hard for me to break the flow and take out the camera. But, risotto is such a lengthy process, that it’s a little easier. These step-by-step guides take forever to write and assemble though, so enjoy this one while it lasts.

I have found that the key to good risotto is constant stirring for about 50 minutes to an hour, on medium-low heat. This requires a glass of wine, a chair to sit on, and some sort of book or smartphone to get you through the hour. It’s going to get hot and sweaty and your arm will feel like falling off.

At one point I whined to Dhiren that I was feeling dizzy, and he rescued me while I sat in the living room in front of the fan. So, it helps to have a significant other nearby to take over for you if you’re weak, like me.

Though even he complained, “You have to stir this for an hour?”

Here’s my step-by-step guide to a delicious risotto, adapted from this version on All Recipes.

  • 5 cups chicken broth, divided
  • Olive oil as needed
  • Combination of portobello, white mushrooms and/or crimini. I used a combination of all three. Use as much as you like. I used two portabellos, a bag of Crimini and 1/2 pound of white. It depends on your preference.
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • sea salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Step 1: Prep your ingredients. As you need to be in front of the pan stirring, you won’t have time to chop and grate, so do it before. Clean and chop all your mushrooms & shallots, grate the Parmesan and have everything measured out.
Step 2: Heat up the chicken broth in a separate pot.
Step 3: In a big skillet, heat up some oil and cook the mushrooms until soft. They won’t be cooked much longer after this point, so be sure they are done. Pour the juice and mushrooms into a bowl and set aside.
Step 4: Heat some oil in the large skillet, and then saute the shallots until light.
Step 5: Pour in the rice and stir continuously until slightly clear.
Step 6: Play with your rice.
Step 7: Slowly pour in the wine, little by little and stir until it is fully incorporated.
Step 8: Add the chicken broth one ladle at a time, stirring constantly. Do not add the next ladle until all the broth is incorporated. This step should take anywhere from 50-60 minutes, depending on your skillet and heat. I like the starch to release slower, which takes a lower heat and more stirring. The rice should ooze like lava, but still remain a little al dente. Mushy risotto is no good.
Step 9: Once all the broth is incorporated, remove from heat and mix-in the mushrooms, butter, chives and Parmesan.
Step 10: Serve immediately and enjoy with wine and a salad.