Risotto with Taleggio and Wild Carrot Honey & Seared Sea Scallops

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I’ve said it before, risotto is my desert island food. I could be having a most horrible day, but when I sit down with a hot bowl of risotto and a nice glass of wine (in this case a rather heavenly viognier) all is well with me and the world. To be honest, David and I paired this lovely meal AROUND the viognier. Our genius wine guru at our local market suggested pairing it with scallops and risotto for food and drink that would most certainly end in the most happy of circumstances. Therefore, I chose this risotto with melted taleggio from Gabriele Corcos, and our favorite simple and delicious seared scallops recipe. It is all finished with a drizzle of golden Sicilian wild carrot honey. We thought the pairing with the viognier was pretty much perfect. I realize we’re not very far into 2015, but this is the meal of the year so far.

pair with a good viognier such as Stag’s Leap 2012

Risotto from: Extra Virgin
serves: 2 as an entrée or 4 as a small plate

4 cups vegetable stock, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 shallot, finely diced
1 cup Carnaroli rice*
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 pound Taleggio cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a handful of Treviso radicchio, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley
wild carrot honey, to taste**

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In a small pot, heat the stock over medium heat until just before boiling. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm.

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In a deep, nonstick sauté pan or a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until the shallot is softened but not colored. Add the rice and stir well, making sure to coat all the grains in oil. Toss the rice a few times, then add the wine and let it reduce for 2 to 3 minutes.

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Reduce the heat to medium-low and slowly start adding the stock a 4-6 ounce ladleful at a time. Stir constantly, giving the rice time to absorb the liquid each time before adding another ladeful, until the rice is al dente, 15 to 25 minutes. If you are close to using up the 4 cups of stock and the rice is still too firm, heat some more stock and continue until the rice is al dente.

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Add the Taleggio and let it melt completely. Add the Parmesan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the pan from the heat and add the radicchio, stirring to mix it well with the rice.

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Serve on plates garnished with the parsley, a touch of grated Parmesan, a generous teaspoon of honey and the seared scallops.

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seared scallops

6-8 large sea scallops
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Sprinkle the scallops on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a medium pan over medium-high heat until hot, about 1 minute. Add the butter and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Continue to heat the pan until the butter begins to turn golden brown.

Add the scallops to the pan flat side down and cook until nicely browned on the bottom, about 2 minutes. The key to great scallops is the initial sear, do not flip until the bottom is nicely browned. Adjust heat if necessary to keep the butter from burning. Using tongs, turn the scallops and cook until medium rare, about one to two minutes longer, depending on the size of the scallops. For scallops medium rare means the sides have firmed up and all but the middle third of the scallop is opaque. Serve immediately atop the risotto.

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*Wild carrot honey-this Sicilian honey is a soft-tan color with an intense aroma and a mildly sweet taste with a slightly tannic finish. You can find it online. I found mine in a little Italian shop near my house. If you can’t find wild carrot, use sunflower honey (any meadow honey will do, but you want to avoid too-sweet tree honey here.)

Carnaroli vs Arborio: Carnaroli is different from the more common Arborio rice because of its higher starch content,  firmer texture, and longer grain. However, use what you’ve got or what you can find at the store. I had some Arborio I needed to use up, so that’s what I used. 6 in one, and half dozen….

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