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Seasonal food blog of Chef Deborah at Cuvée at The Greenporter Hotel

Northern Italian-inspired Christmas Eve Dinner

December 24th, 2015 · No Comments · Allergies, Brooklyn, Brunch, Christmas, City Cooking, Columbus Day, cookies, Cooking Classes, Cuvee at The Greenporter Hotel, Dessert, Dietary Restrictions, Dinner, Entertaining, Events, Fall Recipes, Gluten-free, Gone fishing, Greenport, Grilling, Hanukkah, Holiday, Italian, Kosher, Low-Calorie, Lunch, Meatless Mondays, New Year's, New York City, North Fork, Nut allergy, nut-free, pareve, pescatarian, Queens, salad, Seafood, Side Dishes, Tips, Travel, Travels, Vegetarian, Wine, Winter Recipes

Risotto with saffron, alla Milanese

Risotto with saffron, alla Milanese

Your Christmas Eve menu can cover many bases if you plan it correctly. With the right dishes you can honor some tradition yet also include the vegetarians, the gluten-free along with the gourmands. You can start with a salad of winter flavors including frisée, blood oranges and beets followed by a Lombardian risotto alla Milanese, made with vegetarian garden stock. For the non vegetarians or those without shellfish restrictions, you can grill or pan sauté shrimp and present them skewered on a separate platter for guests to serve themselves.

Shrimp skewers

For dessert, stay on the course of light and simple with a colorful, seasonal fruit salad, a tray of Amaretti cookies and some nice after dinner liqueurs.

 

Risotto alla Milanese (Risotto with Parmesan & Saffron). Adapted from FineCooking.com

1 medium onion, very finely chopped
8 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 lb. (2 cups) arborio, vialone nano, or carnaroli rice, or other medium- or short-grain Italian rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups hot seasonedfork garden stock; more as needed
1/2 tsp. saffron threads
1 cup finely grated parmesan, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a heavy-based saucepan that’s large enough to hold the rice with plenty of room left over, cook the onion in 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat until it’s translucent and aromatic, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the rice and cook it over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add the wine, 2 cups of broth, and the saffron. Turn the heat to high until the broth comes to a simmer and then adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer.

Cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring every minute or two (there’s no need to stir constantly). Add another cup of broth and keep cooking, stirring, and adding broth until the rice is al dente but not raw or grainy in the middle (see tip on Stirring risotto).

When the rice is ready, stir in the cheese. Add a little more broth to give the risotto the consistency you like (from fairly tight to almost soupy). Off the heat, stir in the remaining 6 tablespoons butter until the risotto has a creamy, glistening appearance.  Season with salt and pepper prior to serving.

Make Ahead Tips

If you try to make risotto ahead completely and then reheat it, it will appear to be a substance more suitable for masonry. Instead, you can cook it to the half way point—the rice should still be slightly crunchy inside—and then spread it out on a baking sheet (without smashing) to release the heat and stop it from cooking any further. Set it aside at room temperature for up to two hours. When you’re ready to serve the risotto, return it to the pot and resume adding hot liquid until it’s perfectly al dente and ready to ladle into individual bowls or onto a serving platter.  Garnish with additional grated cheese and fresh herbs or finely minced celery leaves.

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