I’m not ashamed to say that I named my dog after Gordon Ramsay, nor am I ashamed to admit that I love EVERY SINGLE GORDON RAMSAY SHOW EVER. I’ve watched all of the British AND US Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, Hotel Hell, Masterchef, etc. etc. etc. And tonight was the season premiere of Hell’s Kitchen, one of Shayne’s and my spring and summer favs. I don’t know if it’s because we both spent years in the food service industry or what, but we can always agree to watch cooking reality shows. And we spelled Ramsay’s name with the second “a” because that’s how Gordon Ramsay is spelled. And I trolled around on Twitter posting staged pictures of the dog with Gordon Ramsay’s autobiography until he responded to one. Not even kidding.
If you’ve ever seen Hell’s Kitchen, you know that the chefs constantly struggle with three things: cooking beef wellington, correctly searing scallops, and making an acceptable risotto. Ramsay constantly throws risotto all around the kitchen because it’s too al dente, too runny, or too cold. Since scallops are expensive and have NO desire to try my hand at a beef wellington, I decided tomato risotto with chicken sausage was the only thing to make for dinner tonight. Pardon the pictures…I finally found my digital camera again, so they will be better going forward.
Tomato Risotto with Chicken Sausage (4 hearty servings)
1 1/2 cups diced tomato
5 cups chicken broth
1 t smoked paprika
1 shallot (or a small onion, which is all I had today, but shallots are better), finely diced
2 chicken sausages (I used spinach/feta flavored this time)
1 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup of dry white wine
2 cups easily wilted greens, like spinach, chard, etc.
2 T butter
1/2 cup parmesean
Saute the tomatoes for a few minutes in a medium sized saucepan, mostly to get the kitchen smelling delicious, but also to bring out the flavor a little bit. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add the smoked paprika (thank you, husband, for introducing me to a delicious and versatile ingredient).
Cook the onion or shallot in 2 T EVOO until translucent and browned. If you are using uncooked sausage, toss that in when the onion is about half cooked. If you are using pre-cooked sausage, you can wait until the onion is basically cooked, before tossing it in for a quick saute (though either way, it’s better if it starts to get a little crispy). Season with salt and pepper.
When onion is fully cooked, add the arborio, and cook for one to two minutes to give it a little toast. Then, pour the wine in and stir until fully evaporated.
Using a ladle, incorporate the chicken broth/tomato mixture, a scoop at a time, stirring each ladleful until it becomes fully evaporated. Slow and steady is the key to a creamy risotto; don’t rush the cooking process. It doesn’t take as long as the street rumors say, and it’s worth the patience. It usually takes me around 30-40 minutes to get all the liquid in. Before you move on to the next step, taste the rice to make sure it’s actually cooked, and not too chewy. Add more broth, if necessary, a little at a time until you get the creamy consistency you want.
Turn down the heat, and stir in your greens until they are wilted and soft. Toss with butter and cheese and stir until all the goodies are combined.
Eating a big bowl of tasty risotto will set you right any day. I’ve seriously been thinking about making this ALL week long. Because of the tomato in the base, I think there’s a different flavor to this risotto than most others, almost a cheddar-y flavor. But don’t let that scare you, because it’s delicious. And I felt completely satisfied knowing that I had made a deliciously creamy risotto while I watched the new contestants on Hell’s Kitchen have theirs thrown out. I’m not saying I wouldn’t be terrified presenting this to Gordon Ramsay, but I’m pretty damn proud of it.
Other than doing a LOT of cooking this week, we’ve been super busy getting ready for the last push of work before our trip to Ireland. We went out and bought carry-ons for easy travel, I got a new coat for tramping the Irish cliffs and heaths, and some new sturdy walking shoes that won’t be like mesh sponges if it rains. I basically have to pack this weekend, as I’m in California for work next Tuesday through Friday, and our flight to Ireland leaves Saturday morning.
In all our preparations, we did manage to check out H-Mart for the first time this weekend. H-Mart is a chain of Asian groceries stores, which to me seemed like a friendlier and more approachable Uwajimaya. We were watching an old episode of No Reservations where Anthony was eating street food in Thailand, when we got a massive craving for any food of the Asian persuasion. We already knew we were heading the direction of H-Mart, and had heard good things about their deli cafe, so we decided to check it out.
Oh my good golly, I had to stop and remember to take a picture of our food. They had three different cafes in the store, one Vietnamese, one Thai, and one that was Korean assorted. We went for Thai, and I encouraged Shayne to branch out from the classic pad thai, so we ordered some Pad Kee Mao and an order of Panang curry. We easily got two meals out of our $16 “lunch” and we were both so impresed. I’ve been craving H-Mart ever since. The noodlesin the Pad Kee Mao were OUT OF THIS WORLD fresh and delicious. You could tell that all the veggies were fresh and cooked to order, because the green beans and peppers were crisp, not sad and limp. I want to eat all the foods there. All. The. Foods. This was easily one of the best meals we’ve ever eaten.