Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sweet Potato + Pancetta Risotto

This is a 100% autumnal recipe, but when you're faced with a single aging sweet potato and an overflowing herb garden in the middle of July, you go with the flow. So feel free to wait until September to make this sweet and savory risotto, but I promise that your taste buds won't mind if you jump the gun like I did!

I use Alton Brown's recipe as my base for risotto; I think the key parts are sauteeing the rice with garlic and onion before adding liquid and combining the wine and broth from the beginning - this prevents all the flavor in the wine from cooking off by the time the risotto is done. And, in my experience, jasmine rice works just fine if you don't have arborio (aka when Trader Joe's has decided not to stock it that week).

So hold off for fall, or serve this up now with some seared scallops and farmers market veggies. Why wait?

Sweet Potato + Pancetta Risotto
makes 4 sides or 2 entree servings

  • 4 oz pancetta
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 3 cups + 2 Tbsp chicken broth
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine white wine and 3 cups chicken broth. Heat to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and keep warm.

In a large sautee pan or Dutch oven over medium heat, cook pancetta, stirring occasionally until crispy. Remove with a slotted spatula and drain over paper towels; set aside.

In the same pan, heat olive oil (you may need more or less depending on how much fat was rendered from your pancetta). Add shallot and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring so it doesn't burn. Add arborio rice and stir to coat with oil; sautee for 2-3 minutes.

With a ladle, add approximately 2 cups of the warm broth mixture to rice, so that rice is just covered. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Add more liquid, until rice is just covered, and continue cooking and stirring. Repeat until all liquid is used - this usually takes 4 total additions of liquid. 

Meanwhile, poke holes in sweet potato and cook in microwave for 5-7 minutes, until soft. Slice in half and let sit until cool enough to handle. Scoop out the inside of the potato and mash it with 2 Tbsp chicken broth until smooth (I did this quickly in a glass measuring cup with an immersion blender to achieve a very smooth consistency). 

When rice has absorbed all liquid, it should be quite creamy. Add sweet potato puree, parmesan, rosemary, sage, cooked pancetta, and generous amounts of Kosher salt and pepper to taste (optional: reserve a bit of the pancetta and parmesan to use a garnish). 
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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Stovetop Flank Steak with Summer Veggie Hash

Not that we need an excuse to buy all the colorful produce at the summer farmers market, but here's one anyway! And for my fellow grill-less apartment dwellers, this flank steak is just almost as yummy using a trusty cast iron skillet as it would be char-grilled.

Now, I could happily eat my way through four courses of potatoes, but you really don't miss the carbs in this all-veggie hash, I promise. And since both the steak and the squash cook quickly, this meal comes together in no time for a handy weeknight dinner.

I love chimichurri, a classic South American condiment for grilled meat made with cilantro (or parsley), vinegar, and garlic. In this version, the addition of avocado makes it nearly-guacamole, but with more of a bite from the vinegar. A tasty pairing, but traditional chimichurri will always work if that's your style.

Stovetop Flank Steak with Summer Veggie Hash
makes 2 large servings

{avocado chimichurri}
1/2 ripe avocado
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup cilantro leaves (or if you're averse, use parsley)
1 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste

{stovetop flank steak}
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb flank steak (cut in half if that helps fit it in your skillet)
Kosher salt
Black pepper

{summer veggie hash}
2 tsp olive oil
3/4 cup corn kernals, fresh or frozen
1 zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 yellow squash, quartered and sliced
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp smoked paprika

For the chimichurri:
In a food processor, combine all chimichurri ingredients and process until fairly smooth. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Chill while you prep everything else.

Generously season flank steak on both sides with salt and pepper. Press seasoning into each side and let steak chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before cooking.

In a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil until it shimmers. Add flank steak and sear on each side for 3-4 minutes or until it reaches desired doneness (mine was about 1/2 inch thick and turned out medium-rare).

Remove to a cutting board and tent with aluminum foil. Rest for 10 minutes while you make the ash.

In same pan, add more olive oil if necessary. Sautee red onion for 3-4 minutes until it begins to soften, scraping up any brown bits from the steak. Add corn, zucchini, yellow squash, garlic, cumin, and paprika, and stir to combine. Sautee for another 2-4 minutes, until everything is warmed through (but be careful not to overcook the squash or it will get mushy.) Remove hash to serving plates.

Un-tent steak and slice against the grain. Plate on top of the veggie hash and top with avocado chimichurri.
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