I ended up being home for Thanksgiving for a full week, which is quite a while in the grand scheme of things. The best part, though, was that after the actual craziness of Thanksgiving passed, I was able to just spend some time with my parents and do some quality comfort food cooking.
Comfort food in my world doesn’t always mean fried chicken and mac & cheese (though those are awesome too). For me, when I’m stressed or in a nurturing mood, I want to make risotto.
Somehow, risotto has gotten a bad reputation for being fussy, hard to make, and just not worth the trouble. I wholeheartedly disagree. It’s actually remarkably simple, but it takes time and patience and a little bit of love to make. It’s the perfect dish on a cold day to just sit, talk, stir, and drink a glass of wine.
This recipe is one I’d pinned a while ago, using fresh herbs, chicken, and caramelized onions. Since we had tons of leftover turkey after Thanksgiving, I substituted that instead and made it turkey risotto. It is seriously the best risotto I’ve ever made (and that’s saying something, because my risotto is excellent!).
With this recipe, I finally got the texture of the risotto perfect. In the past I’d cooked it just a little too long and thickened it up all the way. But when you get risotto in a restaurant, it’s still got some liquid in it, so I tried that this time and it worked wonderfully.
The one thing with risotto is that you can’t rush it. I’ve tried before, and it never works. You can’t force the rice to soak up liquid faster than it wants to. So when you decide to make this turkey risotto, make sure you have plenty of time to make it awesome.
Start by heating the stock and water in a saucepan until very hot but not boiling. Once it starts to simmer and steam, turn the heat down to low and keep it there. It’s important that the liquid you add to the risotto be hot—if it’s not, the outside of the risotto will cook but the inside will stay hard and tough.
Slice up the onion into strips. Heat a little olive oil in a skillet on medium-low, add the onions and a little brown or turbinado sugar (you can use white if you don’t have the others). I didn’t have an exact amount, but added probably between a teaspoon and a tablespoon of sugar.
Saute the onions until caramelized. Don’t rush them or turn up the heat too high, it’s important that they cook evenly and slowly. Set aside.
Since the turkey was already cooked in my case, I just sauteed it for a few minutes with some spices and olive oil to get it hot and add a little flavor. Set this aside as well.
Meanwhile in a large saucepan, heat two tablespoons of butter on medium, then add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the arborio rice and stir around for about 3 minutes, until the rice is coated and translucent.
Add the wine and cook for 2-3 minutes, until absorbed. It will smell AWESOME about now.
Add about a cup of stock to the rice and stir around. Depending on your stove, you might want to turn the heat down slightly, you don’t want this to cook too fast. My mom has a gas stove and her biggest burner is super intense, so I was cooking this on like 3-4 (on my regular stove it would have been around 5).
Once the first cup of stock has been absorbed, add another 1/2 cup of stock and stir until absorbed. Continue this process until you get to the last 1/2 cup of stock.
Your rice will start to look like this, get really fat and totally white through.
Once you get to the final 1/2 cup of stock, add it and keep stirring, but you want to leave it fairly liquidy (like this picture). The texture will be much better this way.
Mince up the fresh herbs nice and fine. I used rosemary and sage, which go very well with turkey, but you could also use thyme or other poultry-friendly herbs. Stay away from dill, cilantro, basil, and other really intense flavors that will fight the other flavors.
Add most of the parmesan cheese to the risotto and stir in. Reserve a little for the last minute.
Add in the turkey, onions, herbs, and the remaining butter, and stir in until just combined (turn off the heat). Season with salt and pepper (I use white pepper, sparingly) to taste.
Garnish with the rest of the parmesan cheese and some herbs if you’d like, and serve hot.
I will definitely be making this turkey risotto again…it’s a perfect way to use up Thanksgiving turkey leftovers, and would be very adaptable for other things (different herbs, chicken, etc.).
Herbed Turkey Risotto with Caramelized Onions
- 1½ tablespoons of olive oil, divided
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- Pinch of sugar
- 5 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups of water
- Cooked, seasoned turkey (or chicken, if you prefer)
- 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, divided
- 2 cloves of minced garlic
- 2 cups of Arborio rice
- 1 cup of dry white wine
- 2 ounces of grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
- 4 tablespoons of fresh, minced herbs (I used rosemary & sage)
- ¾ teaspoon of salt
- Ground pepper (I prefer white pepper for risotto, but either white or black will work)
Add 1½ teaspoons of the olive oil to a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the sliced onion and sugar, stirring to coat. Allow the onion to cook, stirring occasionally, until deep golden brown and caramelized. Remove the onions to a plate and set aside. Cook the turkey for a few minutes as well and set aside.
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the chicken broth and water and bring to a simmer. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to a Dutch oven or large saucepan set over medium heat. Once melted, add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice to the pan, stirring to coat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the grains are translucent around the edges, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until fully absorbed, about 2-3 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir 1 cup of the hot broth mixture into the rice. Once it has been absorbed, add 1/2 cup of stock at a time, making sure it’s fully absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup. Stir consistently—not every second, but do keep stirring from time to time. This whole process will take at least 45 minutes. When you get to the last 1/2 cup of stock, add it to the risotto and stir in, but don’t wait til it’s fully absorbed.
Remove the pot from heat and stir in most of the parmesan. Stir in the turkey, caramelized onions, herbs, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with the remaining parmesan and some herbs if you’d like. Serve immediately.
Original recipe here
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