21 March 2010

Caramelized Onion & Gorgonzola Risotto

The original plan was gorgonzola polenta.  That plan went out the window when we got home from grocery shopping and I realized I was out of polenta...oops!  I had bought some fantastic cheese and was craving more, so I decided my carb-y side would have to include it.  Hence this new risotto recipe was born.  The caramelized onions add major flavor and their sweetness offsets the strong cheese beautifully.

At The Cheese Shop in West Side Market, I spent some time talking to Lisa, a veteran of the Cleveland food scene who started her career at Piccolo Mundo, working alongside many well-known Cleveland foodies, including Chef Michael Symon.  Lisa told my sister and I some great stories about the restaurant scene in Cleveland over the past quarter century while she fed us samples of fantastic cheeses.  We ended up choosing Buttermilk Blue.  Though Lisa helped us choose it as the perfect complement to our polenta, it also worked beautifully in the risotto we ended up with.

Caramelized Onion & Gorgonzola Risotto
serves 4 as a side dish

1 tbsp. butter
2 medium or 1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. arborio rice
up to 1 tbsp. olive oil
1 c. white wine
3-4 c. chicken stock
1/3 c. gorgonzola (heap it in there!) plus more for the table
salt & pepper

You've seen my risotto technique a ton of times - I'll give you the basics here, but for step by step instructions and many other risotto recipes, click the "rice" tag. 

In a medium saucepan, bring chicken broth to a simmer.  Turn heat to medium-low and allow to stay warm on a back burner.

In a large skillet, heat butter over medium heat.  Add onions and stir to coat.  Cook the onions until they are caramelized to a nice dark brown color - don't worry about black/brown bits sticking to the pan, we'll take care of those later.  Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes or so, then add the rice to the skillet.

Stir the rice, lightly toasting it in the pan.  If it is sticking, add a bit of olive oil to keep it moving.  Add the wine first, stirring to help the rice absorb the liquid.  Continue adding liquid and stirring until rice is creamy and slightly al dente in the center.

Add gorgonzola to the pan, stirring to melt throughout the risotto.  Plate and top with additional gorgonzola crumbles.

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