Cook

Tonight, I’m back in the kitchen.  Today’s mission:  risotto from leftovers.  I’ve got a half-package of lardons (unsmoked matchsticks of bacon), one slightly manky onion, a couple handfuls of salad greens, and a few lonely frozen asparagus spears, languishing in the freezer.

First, fill up my stock pot with some fresh water.  Throw in a couple stock cubes; it’s not as good as stock from scratch, but they ain’t bad.  (Hey, I’m a working woman.  Who’s got time to simmer stock during the week?)  To give a more homemade flavor, I toss in 5 whole peppercorns, a crushed clove of garlic, and the ends of the onion and shallot I’ve just chopped.  Let it steep while I get to my risotto.

In a pan, I start by browning my lardons, rendering out that delicious pork fat.  Once they look tantalizing enough to eat, I remove them from the pan.  On the way, one of those little guys may have accidentally fallen into my mouth.  Oops.  Add a touch of olive oil.  In go one small minced red onion and a few garlic cloves, and a pinch of salt.  Sizzle until fragrant, then in with my rice.  Keep that pan moving, stir that rice around until those grains start to gleam.  Now comes my favorite part:  deglaze with the last glugs in a bottle of white wine.  The whoosh is satisfying, and while the pan is simmering, I’m scraping up the brown bits at the bottom of the pan.  Oh, what lovely flavor!

Now comes the process of lovingly ladling my stock into the rice, then stirring.  One ladleful after another, I’m imbuing this mixture with flavor, and feeding those grains of rice until they puff up.  Partway through, I add my secret ingredient:  a damn good scrape of nutmeg.

Add my chopped asparagus spears and lardons, finish the rice.

The finale:  a tablespoon of crème fraîche for that unctuous mouth feel, and two generous handfuls of peppery rocket.  If I had chives, I’d snip some of those bad boys over the top.

I serve up two heaping bowlfuls; F is wide-eyed like a little boy in anticipation; the aromas from the kitchen have gotten him salivating.  To add heat, we sprinkle Espelette pepper over the top, and dig in.

A lovely moment of kitchen alchemy, a moment to myself during the week.

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