– By Casey Weaver –
Any person that is willing to turn their legs in circles for five hours every weekend should have no problem mindlessly stirring a risotto for the twenty or so minutes it takes to cook. I look at it as killing two birds with one stone: it’s relaxing and meditative after a long day, and might be the best upper body workout I get all winter. If you had big cross-training plans going into this off-season but are now finding those intentions a bit too ambitious, you should really think about making a risotto or two. Your rotator cuff will thank you, and you’ll get a great meal out of it, too.
Risottos have the potential to be the perfect food for a training cyclist. If prepared conscientiously (omitting multiple cups of heavy cream), risotto is a great one-dish meal. It can incorporate carbohydrate, as many veggies as you like, and protein, into one plate, and is made all on the stove top. This risotto has one major deviation from the norm-the substitution of barley for Arborio rice. I like to use pearled barley because it goes well with some of the hearty flavors of winter, and when cooked, its texture is very similar to Arborio.
I’ve made this risotto a number of different ways, trying various substitutions each time. This recipe calls for pearled barley, which has both the hull and the bran removed from the barley grain. Though pearled barley contains less fiber, it is significantly easier to cook. If you are looking for a very hearty, fiber-rich meal, feel free to use hulled barley. Just know that the stubborn and impenetrable (I’ve heard that before) hulled barley usually requires a good soak over night before it can be cooked.
1 Ѕ cups pearled barley
1 pound (about) left over Thanksgiving turkey, cut into 2-3 inch strips
1 medium red onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup carrots, sliced ј inch slices
greens from 5 baby turnips, stems trimmed
2 large Portobello mushrooms, sliced 1/8 inch slices
1 leek, sliced ј inch slices
2 green onions, green part only, finely chopped
5 cups warm chicken stock
Ѕ cup hoppy beer, such as pale ale or IPA
Ѕ cup extra sharp (or smoked) cheddar cheese
1 bay leaf
3 T olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
5 (about) baby turnips with tops
1 T Dijon mustard
1 t balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
For the Turnips
Wash, top (do not throw away greens), then quarter the baby turnips. Place in a mixing bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Place the seasoned turnips on a baking sheet and in the preheated oven for about forty minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the Dijon glaze by mixing all ingredients. Once the turnips are soft, remove them from the oven and toss in the glaze to coat. Return coated turnips to the oven and bake an additional five or so minutes.
For the Risotto
Start by sautйing the mushrooms in a separate skillet. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced Portobellos and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about ten minutes, until very soft. Once cooked, remove from heat and set aside.
Next, warm the chicken stock in a medium saucepan.
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a very large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, season with salt, and cook for about six or seven minutes, until the onions begin to soften. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the half-cup of ale (I swear not all my recipes involve beer, PEZ readers are just lucky). Bring the beer to simmer and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, about five minutes.
Reduce the heat slightly and add the carrots, leeks, and pearled barley, stirring well to combine. Add one cup of stock and the bay leaf, and bring the stock to a simmer. Stir constantly until almost all the liquid is absorbed, then add another cup of stock. Repeat this process, adding one cup of stock at a time, with the remaining liquid.
A key to making a good risotto is finding a good cooking temperature. You want a healthy but controlled simmer throughout the cooking. Mushy rice is nobody’s friend, so the five cups of stock, if cooked properly, should give you a slightly “al dente” risotto – with a little ‘bite’ to it. I recommend checking the consistency after the fourth cup and using your judgment and personal preference to determine how much more stock to add.
Once you start in on your final cup of stock it’s time to snap out of meditation mode and get your finishing face on. When nearly all the liquid is absorbed, reduce the heat to very low, or turn it off all together. Add the shredded cheddar cheese, stirring well so it melts and is evenly distributed. Next, add the turnip greens, stirring until they are wilted and integrated into the risotto. Add the cooked mushrooms and turkey, stirring just until combined and turkey is warmed.
Top each serving with about a tablespoon of chopped green onion. If you want a third component to your meal, consider adding a hearty. seeded bread. Serve with a well balanced yet hoppy and full bodied beer, like an ESB (Fuller’s or Boont are good, though there are quite a few that will get the job done).
About The Author:
Casey grew up in the kitchen inspired by his mom and grandmother, who ran the catering and cooking instruction company, Cooking in the Canyon, in Brentwood, Ca. He has worked as a private chef and currently works with the catering company Gourmet Solutions. He received his undergraduate degree in Communication Studies from UCLA, currently races for the NOW-MS elite amateur team, and coaches endurance athletes with Velo-Fit, llc.
• See more of Casey’s work online at his website: CulinaryCompetitor.com
• Contact Casey at Casey.b.Weaver@gmail.com.
• Gotta comment? Let us know – Manager@pezcyclingnews.com