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Fireside Turkey Risotto | Sortachef

Fireside Turkey Risotto

The sharp ring of metal on ice breaks the still mountain air. My old coal shovel bites at the crusty snow, scaring off some resident blue birds who’ve flown in looking for a handout. In an hour I’ve cleared enough deck space to accommodate them. They squawk and squabble as they hungrily attack seed I’ve laid on the icy brown rails, and then fly off to shiver in the branches of nearby trees.

A Steller's jay searches for food on the snowy rails of our deck.

At 3600 feet it’s definitely winter here. Cold enough for crispy snow, for frost on every exposed surface, for all the snow machines to be lined up at the entrance to our unplowed road. Cold so engulfing it takes me hours and hours to warm up the cabin. All I can do is hunker by the fire to warm my hands while my back freezes. But a thousand feet up on the slopes of Mount Lichtenberg the snow has melted from the trees and the rock is all exposed. It’s downright balmy up there. Go figure.

I came to shake off Black Friday and Cyber Monday and to recharge my batteries. There’s no internet up here, no European debt crisis, no Afghan conflict, no recession. It’s just me and the trees and the snow and the mountain and the feisty Steller’s jays.

I watch their escapades from my own comfortable perch, safe and warm now inside. Later, as tree shadows lengthen and the bold mountain fades, I throw extra wood on the fire and get out the big frying pan. At our very seventies almond stove I whip up risotto: a little white wine, Arborio rice, some onion. And turkey soup, lovingly packed in just for the occasion.

By turns the firelight burns gold and red and orange, tongues that dance and leap against the firebox.  Night sets in, blacker than black, but I don’t care. The cabin is finally warm and cozy. Pine sap pops and hisses, bursting into white flames that rage and retire. I sit in the glow, rapt in wonder, as the fire crackles and the smell of rich risotto mingles with woodsmoke.

Meanwhile, the cold and all that other are right outside. But for the moment - as far as I’m concerned – they might as well be a million miles away. 

Fireside Turkey Risotto

Makes 2 generous portions

3 Tablespoons of good olive oil

6 ounces of yellow onion, chopped

1 cup of Arborio rice

5 ounces of Pinot Grigio or other white wine

1 quart of homemade turkey soup (see note)

2 ounces of grated Reggiano Parmesano or Grana Padano cheese

 

About the turkey soup: I baked the carcass of the Thanksgiving turkey in salted water to cover for 3 hours and made turkey soup with the stock, adding a cup each of mirepoix and turkey chunks to finish (Yield: 2 quarts of soup). If you don’t have your own, you can substitute 3 cups of chicken or turkey stock in the risotto. Sauté carrots and celery with the onions and add ½ cup of turkey in the last 5 minutes.

To make risotto:

  1. Heat the soup in a 2-quart pan until simmering. Remove the turkey bits, carrot and celery with a slotted spoon and reserve. If you don’t have 3 cups of broth, add some hot water or chicken stock. Keep the broth simmering in the pan.
  2. Heat olive oil in a 12” frying pan over medium heat and sauté the onion for 3 minutes until barely translucent. Add rice and cook for 1 minute more, stirring to coat the rice.
  3. Turn the heat to medium high and add the white wine. Turn the rice over once or twice in the next 2 minutes. When the wine is mostly absorbed, set the timer for 17 minutes*.
  4. Add 1 cup of hot broth to the risotto. After 5 or 6 minutes on the clock, add another cup of hot broth. Throughout the cooking time, turn the rice over with a spatula every 2 minutes. Add small amounts of broth toward the end of the time if all the liquid gets absorbed. It is not necessary to add all of the broth; every brand of Arborio rice is different.
  5. With 2 minutes left on the clock, add the reserved bits from the soup to the rice. Stir gently to incorporate.
  6. Once 17 minutes is up, your rice should have a creamy consistency. Remove from the heat, stir in the cheese and serve immediately.

*High altitude timing is longer. At 3600 feet I figured 19 minutes.

Now about that fire. A couple of sticks of wood, a nice fireplace and a comfy chair. A glass of wine, maybe? Yeah, now you’re talking!

 

Snow machines only past this point! Mt. Lichtenberg in the distance.

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At Woodfiredkitchen.com, Sortachef takes you on adventures in the kitchen and beyond, with tales to suit. Many of his offerings are woodfired - a flaming good recipe for pizza, bread, or something different. All recipes are original and tasty. Enjoy!
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