Saturday 12 February 2011

Recipe: Risotto of Celeriac and Tarragon

Not a classic combination, but delicious for all that. Intriguing, too - as the combined flavours are complementary but elusive; the Technical Dept couldn't idenify a single ingredient that had gone into the dish when I served it up to him several days ago (but he was enthusiastic for a second serving, anyway).

The secret is to dice the celeriac very finely, to start with, and then sweat it slowly so that the fibres break down, and the texture of the vegetable is indistinguishable within the finished risotto. For this initial stage, I used some leftover butter from a boned and stuffed chicken which we'd had several days beforehand, and which had the advantage of lots and lots of flavour; duck or goose fat would be good, too - but, failing that, just sweating the celeriac in plain butter should do the trick. 

For two.

Ingredients: half a small Celeriac, diced very finely (you want to have about one and a half cups, once the Celeriac has been peeled and diced); 2-3 tbs butter (or duck or goose fat, if you have it); two-thirds of a cup of rice (Carnaroli, by preference - these days, I use Baldo, but I doubt it's generally available, and Carnaroli is the next best thing); one glass of dry White Wine; approx one and a half pints of 'white' stock (chicken, duck, or veal); 2 tbs of chopped Tarragon; half a tsp of White Truffle Oil; Seasoning.

1. In a large sauté pan, over low heat, melt the Butter and in it sweat the diced Celeriac until thoroughly softened, stirring from time to time. This should take around 35 minutes. Try to avoid letting the Celeriac colour as it cooks.

2. Heat the Stock in a saucepan.

3. Once the Celeriac is properly softened, add to it the Rice. Raise the heat under the pan, and stir everything together for about a minute; add the Wine, adjust the heat so that the liquid is just bubbling, and continue in classic risotto style, adding the heated Stock by ladlefuls as the liquid in the pan is absorbed by the Rice.

4. Start testing for doneness after about twenty minutes, and continue the cooking process until the rice has lost its 'bite'. 

5. Off the heat, stir in the chopped Tarragon and the Truffle Oil; add seasoning to taste, and serve. 

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