Sunday, November 8, 2009

Comfort Food Dinner

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Last night I made dinner for myself and my favorite Administrative Law study partner. Since I had a guest, I gave him a choice between a Moroccan roasted chicken or sautéed shrimp over cheddar cheese risotto. He chose the risotto. (Don’t worry – the Moroccan chicken will be made later this week.) I figured a dinner like that needed some greens, and he's been obsessing over Brussels sprouts ever since we went to Dirty Bird for lunch last week ( In fact, he brought over this month's GQ magazine, which had a recipe for them from NYC's own David Chang. I decided to make that, slightly modified, as an accompaniment.

To make this dinner, preparation (or a helpful sous chef) is key. You really can’t do anything else while you stir the risotto.

I recommend prepping the Brussels sprouts and shrimp while your stock for the risotto is heating up. Then once the risotto is going for about 15 minutes, start on the sprouts. When the risotto is almost done, heat a pan with a half tablespoon or so of olive oil. Throw enough peeled, tails-off shrimp for as many as you are feeding into the pan, with a few twists of a pepper mill and salt to taste. Believe me, with all the powerful flavors in the risotto and the Brussels sprouts, the shrimp don’t need any more than that.

Brussels sprouts (serves 2):

½ lb. Brussels sprouts
2 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon hot sauce (I used Crystal, since that’s what I always have in the house)

*Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F.
*Trim the sprouts by cutting off the hard ends, then sliced them in half.
*Put the chopped bacon into a hot oven-safe pan and let it get about halfway done.
*Add the sprouts, cut side down, to the bacon. Let them sit in the pan about 8 minutes or so, then put the whole frying pan into the oven.
*After about 10 minutes, take the pan out of the oven, shake it around, then add the hot sauce and lime juice.
*Put back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

The original Nigella Lawson risotto recipe is reproduced below. Note that she says the risotto will take a mere 20 minutes. On my stovetop, it was more like 40. Also, I didn’t have leeks or scallions, so I substituted a thinly sliced shallot. I also used chicken broth for the vegetable.  Here's the link an npr story, and a couple of her other favorite winter recipes:

Cheddar Cheese Risotto

by Nigella Lawson

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 baby leeks or 2 fat scallions, finely sliced
1-1/2cups risotto rice
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 cups hot vegetable stock
1 cup chopped Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons chopped chives


1. Melt the butter and oil in a medium-sized pan and cook the sliced baby leeks or scallions until softened.
2. Add the risotto rice and keep stirring for a minute or so, then turn up the heat and add the wine and mustard, stirring until the wine is absorbed.
3. Start ladling in the hot stock, letting each ladleful become absorbed as you stir before adding the next one.
4. Stir and ladle until the rice is al dente, about 18 minutes, then add the cheese, stirring it into the rice until it melts.
5. Take the pan straight off the heat, still stirring as you do, and then spoon into warmed dishes, sprinkling with some of the chopped chives.
Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a starter

From 'Nigella Express' by Nigella Lawson. Copyright 2007 Nigella Lawson.

Happy cooking!

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