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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Chipotle Risotto

It's officially January and time for warm, hearty dishes. This chipotle risotto resembles the creaminess of traditional risotto but gets a pop of spiciness from the chipotle pepper.

These cold weather dishes can become a bit unhealthy with too much cheese and cream; using a risotto cooking method helps to keep the dish creamy and allows to keep the amount of cheese needed to a minimum. My secret add to this dish is red lentils, they tend to disappear and are hardly noticeable yet they offer a huge boost of protein and nutritional value.
Finding ways to be creative with hearty and creamy dishes with out losing flavor is key to helping stay on track with any New Years Resolutions. Stay out of the cold, turn on the fireplace and eat fat and happy without all the fat!

Tips and techniques:  To make this dish vegetarian, simply leave out the pork and use a vegetarian broth in place of the beef broth.

Chipotle Risotto

1/2 cup diced red onion
1 Tbls olive oil
1 cup diced celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup red lentils
3/4 cup aborio rice
2 cups beef broth
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground paprika
1 -2 large chipotle peppers with sauce, chopped
1 cup chopped or shredded cooked pork (optional)
2 Tbls fresh oregano, chopped
2 Tbls fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 cup chihuahua cheese,shredded
3 Tbls fresh parsley, chopped

Add the olive oil, celery and onions to a soup-like pan, cook about 5 minutes over medium heat until they begin to just soften.

While that is cooking, place the beef broth and tomato sauce in a pan and heat. 
Add in the lentils, the aborio rice, the cumin and the paprika to the onion pan, stir often to avoid burning the rice, saute for about 2 minutes.

Add a cup of the hot broth to the rice mixture and stir. Cover with a lid and set the heat to medium low and allow to simmer until the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, about 5 minutes.  Repeat with another cup of the hot broth, and then again with the final cup of broth, adding the chipotle peppers and the pork with the final cup of broth. .

Taste the rice, it should be al dente rather than hard and definately not soft. If needed, add another 1/2 cup of broth, you don't want the risotto to be dry.

Remove the pan from the heat; toss the cheese with the fresh oregano, thyme and parsley and add to the risotto. Cover and let the heat of the rice melt the cheese for about 3 minutes. Serve immediately with warm tortillas.

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