It is said that the soul of a risotto is its stock. I have to confess, I don’t really heed the advice implied in this little adage, usually opting for bouillon cubes or concentrated dashi rather than homemade stock. I mean, can you blame me? Stock takes time to make from scratch, and besides, rarely do I have the requisite carcasses tucked away in the icebox.
But yesterday I cooked a duck. I smoked it; tea-smoked it, to be precise. It was rather nice, but it wasn’t perfect and the recipe wasn’t an original, so I’m not going to post it. Anyway, at the end of the meal I was left with a duck carcass, still heavy with delicious meat and fat (because I sucked at carving it), so I decided to make a stock. And what better use of stock is there than possessing a risotto? None. There is no better use.
I have to say, the risotto was not noticeably better or more savory than other risottos I’ve made with store-bought stocks, and it wasn’t even particularly ducky. It was very good, though; on a whim, I threw in some pickled ginger that really sung a lovely, sweet-and-sour harmony with the rich tones of duck and Pleasant Ridge Reserve (quite possibly my favorite cheese). The Brazil nuts were a nice touch as well, lending a firm crunch and a mellow coconutty flavor.
Duck and Brazil Nut Risotto
For the stock:
1 duck carcass, roughly chopped
1 onion, halved
1/2 cup red wine
1 inch ginger
2 cloves garlic
about 1 gallon water
- Put everything in a large stockpot and boil over medium-high heat for about 3 and a half hours, or until stock is dark brown and flavorful.
- Strain and refrigerate until ready to use.
1/2 shallot, diced
1/4 red onion, diced
about 2 tablespoons beni shoga (red pickled ginger)
8-10 Brazil nuts, chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
1 cup red wine
about 6 cups duck stock (substitute a mix of beef and chicken stock)
3/4 stalk celery, sliced
about 1 cup duck meat, chopped or pulled (I used the bits stuck to the bones after I pulled them from the stock)
1/2 cup Gruyere or similar cheese
- Bring stock to a simmer.
- Heat olive oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat. Sauté onions with salt and pepper until translucent. Add shallots, beni shoga, and Brazils and sauté until shallots are translucent.
- Add rice and stir well to coat with oil. Increase heat and keep stirring to toast grains.
- When rice turns opaque, add half the wine, then reduce heat back to medium-high.
- Add a ladleful of stock and cook, stirring often. When most of the liquid has evaporated or been absorbed, add more stock and continue stirring. Repeat this step several times until rice has nearly finished cooking.
- After about 10-15 minutes, add celery.
- Once rice is al dente, add duck meat and a small amount of stock and fold into risotto.
- Add cheese and remaining wine. Stir to melt cheese evenly and cook away remaining liquid.