<b>FOOD FINDS | </b>By Mina Williams Herald writer
In the last few years, food lovers all over have been charmed by the Northwest’s vibrant food scene. In her “Food Lovers’ Guide to Seattle,” author Keren Brown credits the Northwest attitude toward ingredients as setting the stage for success for many restaurants, bakeries and specialty shops in the area while giving the reader a backstage pass into their lives.
This style of cooking, where chefs pride themselves in finding the very best ingredients and using simple techniques to create an abundance of flavor, has been the root for many to find favor with beets.
Growing up with Russian grandparents, the only beets Brown tried were in borscht. Only in her adult years did it dawn on her that the vegetable that comes in gorgeous yellows and vibrant purples could turn ordinary dishes into layers of flavors.
One of the individuals featured in Brown’s book is Kurt Beecher Dammeier, the mastermind behind Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Maximus/Minimus, Bennett’s Pure Food Bistro and Pasta &Co. – and this risotto recipe.
“Kurt has always intrigued me with his ability to make ideas come to life,” says Brown.
Golden Beet Risotto
Serves 4 as a main course, 6 as an appetizer
4 cups low-sodium store-bought chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small sweet onion, peeled and minced
½ teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
¾ pound golden beets, peeled and coarsely shredded
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
2 ounces Beecher’s Flagship cheese, grated (about 1 ¼ cups)
¼ teaspoon turmeric
Salt to taste
1. In a medium saucepan, heat the chicken stock to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to the lowest heat possible to keep the stock warm until you are ready to use it.
2. In a large heavy-bottomed skillet (at least 10 inches wide), heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the onion and salt. Sauté gently, for 10 minutes or until the pan is dry. Transfer half of the beet mixture to a small bowl and set aside.
3. Add the rice to the skillet and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently to coat the rice with oil. Ladle 1 cup of the hot stock over the rice and stir frequently. When all of the liquid has been absorbed and your stirring spoon leaves a trail showing where it ran across the bottom of the pot, ladle in another 1 cup of liquid, stirring until the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding stock until the rice grains are al dente and pleasantly creamy, about 30 minutes total. You might not use all the stock; it will depend on the rice.
4. Stir in the cheese, reserved beet mixture and turmeric. Taste for seasoning and add salt as needed. Serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy of Kurt Beecher Dammeier is excerpted from “Food Lovers’ Guide to Seattle” by Keren Brown and used with permission from Globe Pequot Press.