Thursday, December 17, 2009

Light and Lemony

Bare branches, dark grey skies and buckets of rain may mark this season in the Northwest, but they can't hold a candle to some of the delights to be found in local markets. I've already mentioned the abundance of crabby goodness creeping (sideways) out of the sea and onto local tables, and now it looks like there's an avalanche of yellow, puckery globes piling up in the produce aisle and cascading from friends' greenhouses.

Meyer lemons, those natives of China that are thought to be a cross between true lemons and mandarin oranges, have been perfuming the air since they appeared as blossoms on the little tree at my brother's wine shop, and this year he's harvested a bumper crop off of it. I'm planning on making preserved lemons with a batch I bought at the market, but last night, in need of a side dish to go with roast chicken and with lemons dancing in my head, I decided a lemon risotto might just hit the spot.

This recipe is a conglomeration from several sources, but the one departure is the addition of an egg yolk added at the very last minute, courtesy of sensuous kitchen mistress Nigella Lawson. It adds a glossy, creamy quality that suffuses this lemony dish with another level of richness, and may become a regular addition to other creamy risottos.

Meyer Lemon Risotto

2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped fine or 2 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. arborio rice
1/2 c. dry white wine
5 c. chicken stock, heated
1/2 c. Meyer lemon juice (regular lemons can be used, as well, or substitute chopped preserved lemons instead of the juice and the zest)
2 tsp. lemon zest (approx. 2 lemons)
1 egg yolk
1/2 c. parmesan, plus additional for garnish
Parsley, finely chopped, for garnish

Heat butter and oil in medium saucepan over medium heat, then add onion and garlic and sauté until golden, 2-3 minutes. Add rice and stir to combine, approx. 30 seconds. Add white wine and stir until absorbed, then start adding chicken stock a cup at a time until slightly al dente. Remove from heat and add lemon juice, lemon zest, egg yolk and parmesan all at once and stir rapidly to combine. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately with additional parmesan for sprinkling.

Note: If making this in the microwave (I know…total heresy, but it works great), heat oil and butter for 1 min. on high, then add onion and garlic and heat 2 min. on high. Stir in rice to coat and heat on high 1 minute. Stir in wine and stock, cook for 10 min. on high, then pull out of microwave, stir, replace in microwave and cook an additional 10 minutes, watching to make sure it doesn't dry out (there should still be liquid at the top). Remove from microwave, quickly stir in lemon juice, lemon zest, egg yolk and parmesan and serve, garnished with chopped parsley. You may need to play with the timing a little, since each microwave is different, but seriously, this is an easy way to make risotto, especially if you've got company. And they'll never know you cheated.


EcoGrrl said...

i'm so jealous - i only got one on my little plant! great to remember for next year, assuming my little plant makes it through the winter (it's inside now near a southern exposed window). recipe sounds good!

Kathleen Bauer said...

Good luck with your tree…they seem pretty hardy.

And let me know how the recipe works. Always good to have feedback!

Katherine said...

The house I grew up in had a Meyer lemon tree in the backyard...Every time I smell one it takes me back.

Kathleen Bauer said...

I have a bowl of them sitting on the table and it's perfuming the whole house. So fresh!