Roasted Beet Risotto
The earthy flavor of roasted beets enhanced with a splash of balsamic vinegar and a bit of orange zest is a wonderful addition to this traditionally prepared risotto recipe. It makes a terrific side dish for a variety of entrées, but we originally created the recipe to serve with Duck a l'Orange, which is still a favorite for us.
- 2 medium red beets (about 1/2 lb)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3 to 3-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 lb arborio rice
- 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons fresh orange zest
- 1 tablespoon butter
Roast the beets:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Rinse the beets and remove the leafy tops and root ends, reserving the tops for another use. Place the whole beets on a sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and seal the packet tightly.
- Roast the beets until they are easily pierced with a knife, 1 to 1-1/4 hours (depending on their size). When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel with a paring knife, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.
Prepare the risotto:
- Add the chicken broth to a saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low to keep warm.
- In a separate saucepan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat with the oil. Cook for 1 minute, add the wine and let it come to a simmer, then stir in 1/2 cup of the hot chicken broth.
- Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the broth has been completely absorbed. Keep adding broth in 1/2 cup increments, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding more (see notes below). You'll need to stir continually while the risotto cooks and season to taste with salt and pepper as you go along.
- About halfway through the cooking, stir in the reserved beets with the next addition of broth. The risotto should gradually turn a beautiful shade of red from the addition of the beets.
- Continue adding broth in 1/2 cup increments until you're happy with the texture of the rice. Total cooking time for the risotto is approximately 18 to 20 minutes, but start tasting after about 15 minutes. Remember that unlike most other varieties of rice, arborio will always be somewhat firm to the bite.
- Once the risotto is cooked, stir in the balsamic vinegar, orange zest and butter. Cook 1 minute longer, then remove from the heat.
As the risotto cooks and the exterior starch begins to break down, it's sometimes hard to determine when the last broth addition has been fully absorbed.
One good way to tell is to drag a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan to make a path. If you can still see the bottom of the pan for a second or two as you draw the spoon across, the broth has been absorbed. If it fills in immediately behind your spoon, you need to cook a little longer before adding more liquid.