Thursday, June 16, 2011

From Sea to Shining Sea; A Tale of Two Seas; Keep Reading and You Will SeaSee What I Mean

No, my dear muffins, it's not about me cooking fish!
One of my most favorite dishes to make is risotto.  It's easy, it's creamy and comforting, and people who don't know how to make it think you slaved over it and are really impressed.  It's also extremely versatile.  You can eat it plain, or you can add just about anything to it. 

Most cooks like to enhance their risotto dishes according to the season.  In the fall and winter it will be adorned with squash and carrots.  In the spring it's peas and asparagus. 

I was in a risotto mood and didn't know what I wanted to do with it.  Asparagus has been done to death in this kitchen lately.  I hate peas.  Spring is just turning into summer and the later summer abundance of vegetables is yet to be available.  I'm also growing tired of sticking broccoli and cremini mushrooms in everything.  I really have a strong need to branch out.

What, besides vegetables and fruits from the farmer's markets does summer make me think of? With the recent heat wave I have been craving icy tropical drinks and ice cream.  Imagine a lovely pina colada on a hot day.  Then I knew I had my inspiration.

I asked myself what a risotto made with coconut milk would be like?

"You would be making rice pudding," answered my logical brain.

"No," argued the creative side.  I would not include any sweet ingredients.  This would have a savory edge."

So my idea for "fusion risotto" came to be.  I would be combining the Mediterranean technique of risotto with Caribbean flavors - a mishmash of two seas.

I did a quick internet search and found out that I was not the inventor of coconut risotto.  Recipes abound out there.  Here I was thinking I was so creative!  I vowed not to look at anyone else's recipe so my recipe could truly be my own.

I have been keeping this stuff in the house a lot lately.  I've been replacing regular milk with it just for kicks.


The risotto was also lightly flavored with ginger and scallions.

I made the risotto as a side dish.  I decided that as long as we were on a Caribbean them, I would make a jerk sauce.  I used the same spices I used on pork once: allspice, cinnamon, hot pepper, and nutmeg.  I blended this with molasses, olive oil, and garlic.

My victim carrier for the sauce was a whole turkey breast, covered with the sauce before being slow roasted.

My turkey was seriously spicy, so the risotto was a nice creamy foil for it. I made grilled lemon zucchini and summer squash on the side mostly because I couldn't think of any other vegetable to make and the sale on these just jumped out at me at the store.   I thought the risotto was a bit too rich.  I would use less butter (or none) next time and add some lime juice and zest to freshen it up a bit.  As I was cooking it, I thought it tasted a bit weird, but the finished product was pretty good and will be awesome with a few tweaks.

Jerky Turkey Breast

  • 1 whole turkey breast - 4 lbs
  • 1 Tbl allspice berries
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Few grates nutmeg
  • 3-5 dried hot peppers stemmed and seeded (I used red chills and habeneros)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbl molasses
  • 1 tsp salt
Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small pan over low heat, toast the allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and hot peppers.  Your kitchen should smell like Christmas - in Hell. 

In a mini food processor, coffee grinder, mortar and pestle, or other grinding device of your choice, add the toasted spices to the garlic, oil, molasses and salt.  Process into a paste until relatively smooth (you won't likely get  it completely smooth).

Rub the paste generously over the turkey.  Roast for about 75-90 minutes.  Let sit a few minutes and serve.

Coconut Risotto

  • 2 Tbl butter
  • 2 Tbl olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup arborio or similar rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2" piece of ginger, cut in a few small chunks
  • 3 scallions, sliced, green parts only
In a small saucepan mix the coconut milk, ginger, chicken stock together and bring to a gentle simmer.  Keep warm on the stove.

Heat butter and olive oil in a larger saucepan.  Cook onion until transparent.  Add garlic and cook a minute or two until it becomes fragrant. 

Add rice and cook until grains are coated and start to look translucent.

Slowly add the simmering stock mix about a ladleful at a time.  Stir until absorbed.  Keep adding stock and stirring till absorbed.  Stir in scallions and serve.


Sue said...

Interesting! I like that you kept the risotto simple to really highlight the whole coconut thing. That was a great idea for an accompaniment too.

The Blonde Duck said...

I never tried making risotto!

The Blonde Duck said...

I think we can compete on the nerd title. I may have been blond, but I had braces, terrible acne, oily skin, a bob (oh lord) and loved to dance but had no talent, played flute in the band and did flags in hs. Plus, you should have SEEN the guys I dated!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Sue - Yeah. I wanted to highlight the coconut and also not have the seasoning compete with the spicy turkey. You don't want too much of a good thing!

Emily said...

Oooh this sounds lovely! Very tropical. I need to buy a turkey breast from the store. That sounds so good.

I love making rice pudding with coconut milk.

katiez said...

Interesting idea.... I wonder how that would work with Thai food.... Kind of opens up lots of possibilities.