Risotto, is a great one size fits all dish because it provides the perfect back drop for any foreground ingredient. But it needs to be nursed, stirred constantly so the rice absorbs the liquid at just the right pace. No one has the time for that on a weeknight. I discovered that if you bake the rice instead of cooking on top of the stove, it requires much less tending. Baked Risotto isn’t as creamy as the stirred version, but it’s awfully good anyway.
Recommended side dish: shredded sautéed kale
Makes 4 servings
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Total preparation time: 40 minutes
1 cup red wine
3 cups chicken broth
1 Turkish bay leaf
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup Arborio rice
2 medium legs and thighs (6 ounces each) duck confit (see below for source)
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 12 ounces) peeled and cut into 1/2 –inch cubes
1 teaspoon rinsed and dried fresh thyme or 1/3 teaspoon dried
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
Kosher salt and freshly milled black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Bring the wine to a boil in a saucepan over high heat; reduce the heat to low and simmer until reduced by half. Add the chicken broth and bay leaf to wine and heat until hot.
2. Meanwhile melt butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add rice, stirring until each grain is coated. Transfer the rice mixture to a 1 1/2 quart casserole, add the broth mixture with bay leaf. Bake covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir well. Bake, covered, for another 15 to 20 minutes or until rice is tender.
3. While the rice is cooking, heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the duck confit skin side down, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the skin is very crisp. Remove the duck from the pan and let cool slightly, skin side up. Add the sweet potatoes and thyme to the duck fat in the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the sweet potatoes are tender and slightly golden, about 8 minutes.
4. Remove the crisp skin from the duck and crumble; shred the meat and discard the bones. When the rice is done, remove the bay leaf and stir in the sweet potatoes, duck meat, and half the cheese; add salt and pepper to taste. Serve each portion topped with some of the duck skin and the remaining cheese.
Duck confit or preserved duck leg is a French dish, a specialty of Gascony. First the duck is rubbed with salt, garlic, and sometimes herbs such as thyme, then covered and refrigerated for several days. (Salt-curing the meat acts as a preservative.) Then the spices are rubbed off and the duck is poached very slowly, submerged in duck fat. It is a lengthy process, not really suitable for a weeknight meal so it is so lucky that you can now find duck confit in some specialty food shops and on line at Maple Leaf Farms by request. Go to their web site for their recipes to make your own.
What is the difference between and a sweet potato and a yam?
Unless you are shopping in a Caribbean market, it doesn’t matter whether the sign says sweet potatoes or yams – they are all sweet potatoes.
True yams are part of the diet in tropical areas and can be found in the U.S. only in ethnic markets. They are hard, rough skinned, and not very sweet. This is not the potato we serve at Thanksgiving.
I believe where the confusion started was when some sweet potato producers in the south raised a variety of sweet potato that is larger, darker orange and moister than the sweet potatoes grown in other parts of the country and they called them yams.
You can find bay leaves from two locations – Turkey and California. I prefer those from Turkey; bay leaves from California are very strong and tend to take over a dish. If that is all you can find, use half the amount called for in the recipe.