It’s not never that I get stuck in the vegetable aisle standing in front of one good looking bunch of broccoli rabe with no idea of what to do with it, and no way out of wanting it so bad that it ends up in the basket. “Away, away baby let’s go!!!” and me and the broccoli rabe are running out of the store together.
When I got home, I paired it up with a little pantry cleaning and put it together with risotto, and got a little nervous about that because isn’t risotto supposed to be saved for earls and dukes of ladies in waiting type of vegetables like asparagus and wildmushrooms and baby peas and fresh from the net seafood and tiny little roasted tomatoes?
(This is why I can’t hold a job…)
It is my kitchen, my pots and pans, my time, my dinner and so after aruging with myself and winning, it all went together.
I picked out carnaroli risotto–the kind of rice that can wear a crown to a picnic and get away with it. I started with a pan of finely chopped onion that I stirred on it’s own for fifteen minutes over a low flame with a twig of fresh thyme and one of parsley, along with olive oil and a knob of butter for that extra smoothness that only butter can deliver. In a whole separate pan, I simmered the brocoli rabe with a dash of salt, olive oil and a garlic clove added to the cooking water. When it was tender, I drained it, got about 4 more garlic cloves finely sliced, and nearly golden in glaze of olive oil and added the rabe to the mix. I set this over a colander to wait for my rice.
You know I always save the tips from the chicken wings for making stock for just a moment like this, and out they came from the freezer to simmer with a carrot, a half an onion, bay leaf, thyme, parsley and plenty of water. I can hear you complaining about this, but by the time your onion and rabe have cooked in their separate pans, your stock will be ready to use. 30 minutes is fine, (two to four hours is better but a quicky has its place.)
When the onion was looking and tasting like an onion should (be sure to season it with salt and a little pepper) I stirred in a cup and a half of the carnaroli. Let it go for 30 seconds until just going clear. Add a ladleful of hot stock. Stir.
Now is the time to love the risotto. Show the risotto what it means to focus. Show the risotto that the phone can ring itself off the hook–and because you are in the middle of love, there is not one thing that is going to move you from the source. Keep adding hot stock and keep stirring like you mean it. The flame should be about medium. When the risotto tastes nearly done–tender but no where near mushy–standing on it’s own as a grain, turn off the flame. Taste for salt and black pepper. Add a few tablespoons of room temperature butter, one tablespoon at a time, folding it in the way you would fold egg whites into cake batter. Fold in a good handful of a cheese that can stand up strong to broccoli rabe like Parmigiano Reggiano. Add a little bit of chopped flat leaf parsley, and taste again. Give your broccoli rabe a little glaze of your very best olive oil and then gently fold into the risotto. Serve with a platter of garlicky white wine infused fresh clams and you’ll feel life dancing from your heels on up.