Thanksgiving was a little different this year. Usually my husband and I celebrate with both families on the same day. Early supper at 2pm with my family followed a later dinner at 6pm with his family, both with tables topping a dozen guests. Don’t even talk to me about food comas. But this year we did mini celebrates, one per day. On actual Thanksgiving we celebrated at my grandma’s with my immediate family dining on a traditional turkey with (much appreciated) gluten-free everything on the side. Dinner number one was delicious, but it was Friday’s dinner at my in-laws house that blew my mind. And it had nothing to do with the fancy cherry-stuffed turkey roulade.
I’ve noticed a trend lately of risotto like dishes that skip the traditional main ingredient of Arborio rice. In restaurants I’ve seen creamy orzo cooked down with greens. The blogs and Pinterest fill with barley or quinoa options. In my eyes risotto is a creamy rice dish, slowly simmered with broth and/or wine, onions and other veggies. But really, why does it have to be rice? I’m sure there’s history to the meal, and many of my Italian friends might be jumping through their computer screen, ready to strangle me. How dare I even for a moment consider altering the perfectly classic dish? How could I possibly make it better? I never claimed better, just different. Food is meant to evolve, to be played with. So today, I’m playing with risotto.
Success! The nontraditional heart and chocolate Valentines Dinner was a success! If you happened to be seated at our dinner table, and didn’t know you would be eating heart, you probably wouldn’t be any the wiser. Beef heart (at least went slow cooked and smothered with mole sauce) tastes a lot like tender steak, think Filet Mignon. At first I was pretty worried the meat would be chewy. When I stirred the pot partway through the cubes of meat seemed very tough and dense. However, the dish was nothing but delicious. I noticed the heart had a stronger beefy flavor and was firm but super tender. I think my next experiment will include it in a stew or maybe chili.
I had the best intentions of cooking fish last night. I had to run some errands in the city and would be right by Whole Foods so would be able to pick some up. But like always the day got away from me and afternoon became evening and I knew my plans were foiled. I had some beautiful leeks in the fridge and instantly thought of risotto. But with not much else in the kitchen, I needed some inspiration. I googled “leek risotto” and came across Bon Appetit’s amazing recipe for Bacon and Leek Risotto with Poached Egg. I was immediately in love.
You were waiting for the cider braised pork recipe, weren’t you? Too bad! One more day to wait. I figured I’d build up the anticipation and share the main event and desserts last. So you’ll just have to continue reading. Serving a bunch of Irishmen (and women) potatoes were an obvious choice. I could have probably just served the gratin and been golden, but greens are important too! I try to follow the three part meal–one quarter protein, one quarter carbs, one half greens. Or sometimes it ends up being more like three quarters greens, of a variety. But enough chit chat, on to the recipes!