When Shane handed me a printout of this recipe and said “I was thinking I’d make this for dinner tonight,” my first response was “eh, I’m not much for roasted garlic.” And then I thought to myself: you freaking moron, your husband wants to cook for you… say yes!
I quickly said yes. But not before reading the disclaimer at the beginning of the recipe that says not to be put off by the roasted garlic, it’s not overpowering.
Having Shane back in the kitchen is a delight, and well timed to boot. I feel like it’s been 6 months—and maybe it has—since he’s been able to take on dinner. He donned his back brace and got to work, while Rose and I did some Rainbow Looming.
The recipe he made was Jamie Oliver’s Roasted Sweet Garlic and Thyme Risotto with Toasted Almonds and Breadcrumbs (recipe also below). As promised, the garlic is subtle, and not overpowering. The recipe’s got all kinds of interesting and unexpected touches like a lot of celery and a crunchy, toasted breadcrumb and almond topping. Really delicious.
Shane grilled up some Italian sausages to go along with the risotto. I made a spicy roasted eggplant salad, because my friend Britta brought over labor-inducing foods (eggplant, pineapple, hot peppers, spicy hummus) and comforting foods (chocolate pretzels, pita bread, spinach dip) today.
I had one contraction before the eggplant, and am hoping it will bring on more as the evening progresses. And if not, well, I can comfort myself with the chocolate dipped pretzels, and the fact that Shane is back in the kitchen.
2 large heads garlic, whole and unpeeled
Approximately 1 quart (1.1 litres) chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 shallots or 2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 head celery, finely chopped
14 ounces (400 grams) risotto rice
2 wine glasses dry white vermouth or dry white wine
1 good handful fresh thyme, leaves picked
Freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 ounces (70 grams) butter
4 ounces (115 grams) freshly grated Parmesan
51/2 ounces (155 grams) shelled and peeled almonds, lightly crushed, cracked or chopped
2 handfuls coarse fresh bread crumbs
For the basic risotto: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Roast the whole garlic heads on a dish in the oven until soft, about 30 minutes.
Stage 1: Heat the stock. In a separate pan heat the olive oil, add the shallots or onions, garlic, and celery, and fry slowly for about 4 minutes. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.
Stage 2: The rice will now begin to fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute it will look slightly translucent. Add the vermouth or wine and keep stirring, it will smell fantastic. Any harsh alcohol flavors will evaporate and leave the rice with a tasty essence.
Stage 3: Once the vermouth or wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Separate the roasted garlic cloves and squeeze out the sweet insides into the risotto. Add the thyme and black pepper to the risotto. Turn down the heat to a highish simmer, so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladles of stock.
Stage 4: Remove from the heat and add the butter and Parmesan. Stir gently. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 to 3 minutes. This is the most important part of making the risotto, as this is when it becomes outrageously creamy and oozy like it should be. Eat as soon as possible while the risotto retains its perfect texture. In a frying pan toast the almonds and bread crumbs in a little olive oil until crisp and golden. Season with a little salt. Set to one side. Serve the risotto with the toasted almonds and bread crumbs sprinkled over the top. Lovely.