Beet Salad and Shallot-Mushroom Risotto

I found some beautiful, tiny beets at Phoenicia, as well as some kumquats, forelle pears and shallots. So I got to thinking about what kind of simple-but-full-flavoured dinner I could make. Beet salad and shallot-mushroom risotto is what I decided on. They both came out beautifully.

Shallot-Mushroom Risotto

1 minced shallot
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon chicken fat, lard or butter (I used chicken fat)
1 tablespoon olive oil

2 dried chanterelle mushrooms
2 dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup hot water

1.25 cup medium-grain rice*
2.75 cups chicken broth**
.75 cup water from hydrating the mushrooms
1 teaspoon salt

Put your dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour the hot water over them. Set off to the side to let them hang out on their own. Put broth in a small pot and simmer. Heat an 8-10" pan on medium heat, then add chicken fat and olive oil to it. Add shallot and cook until almost transparent. Add garlic and cook until shallots are done. Drain mushroom liquid into the pot of chicken broth and chop the mushrooms up. Add garlic and shallots to them and set aside (leave the fat in the pan).

Put rice in the pan and stir constantly, frying it for around 5 minutes. Start adding broth to the pan one ladle-full at a time, stirring the rice constantly. Continue to add broth at this rate as each ladle-full is absorbed by the rice. Periodically, taste a piece of rice to check for doneness. When the rice is al dente, add back in the garlic, shallot and mushroom pieces. Continue to cook until all the broth has been incorporated. Remember to be stirring the whole time you're cooking (this takes about 20 minutes or so)! Remove from heat and cover. Set aside for 5 minutes. Serves 2 (this will serve more people if you're not eating it as the main meal like we did).

*Theoretically you would be using arborio rice, but I just used generic medium-grain
**If you use store-bought chicken broth, probably reduce the salt in this recipe

Beet Salad

1 pound small beets, peeled and sliced in half, then sliced .25" thick
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon orange water
pinch salt
.25 teaspoon vanilla paste

5 kumquats, rough chopped
1 forelle pear, cut in half lengthwise, cored and sliced thinly lengthwise (I got 20 slices total)

reserved liquid from beets
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
3 rough chopped basil leaves

Preheat oven to 450F. Mix together beets, oil, orange blossom water, salt and vanilla paste. Roast for 45 minutes. Upon removal from the oven, immediately put the beets in another bowl and chill. Chill the liquid remnants from roasting the beets. When both are completely chilled, add the kumquats to the bowl of beets and toss together. Whisk together the reserved roasting liquid, lemon juice, vanilla sugar and basil. Put 10 slices of pear on the plate, top with half the beet mixture, then drizzle dressing on top. Serves 2.


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