Roasted Sweet Garlic, Thyme and Mascarpone Risotto with Toasted Almonds and Breadcrumbs

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Serves 3 to 4
Source: Jamie Oliver
Originally from April 2013 on my old blog

Risotto is like a warm bowl of creamy, comforting deliciousness. It’s just so homey and it feels like a big hug. A lot of people are scared of risotto, which i really don’t get. The only “difficult” aspect of making risotto is that you do have to stand by the pot and babysit it, but that’s not difficult, just a little annoying.

Here, roasted garlic is used to make a subtle, sweet and garlicy flavor. Mascarpone is like cream cheese, but not sweet. A dollop of it on top of the risotto makes for an amazing creaminess that is to die for. This is a pretty easy dinner that can be made in under an hour. I served this with glazed carrots with shallots and toasted almonds (we had a lot of left over almonds in the pantry) on the side, which I will be posting next.

if you use vegetable stock and not chicken stock, this is a great vegetarian recipe.

Ingredients:

~14 ounces risotto (arborio) rice; a little under 2 cups

~5 cups chicken or vegetable stock

~3 shallots or 2 medium onions, finely chopped

~½ a head of celery, finely chopped (optional; I didn’t have any so I opted out)

~1 ¼ cups (10 ounces) dry white vermouth or dry white wine

~2 whole heads garlic

~1 good handful fresh thyme, leaves picked from stems

~2 big handfuls course fresh breadcrumbs (you can use my recipe for fresh breadcrumbs, which is posted on my blog, or your own)

~5 ½ ounces almonds, finely chopped

~Mascarpone cheese, to serve

~5 tablespoons butter

~4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

~1 tablespoon olive oil

~salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 F. Place the 2 heads of garlic, left whole and untouched, on the baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes. Let cool and squeeze out the soft, golden insides.

In a saute pan, toast the breadcrumbs and chopped almonds over medium heat until golden. Set aside.

Heat the stock over medium heat in a saucepan. In a separate pan, (I suggest a Dutch oven; it should be big enough to hold all the risotto) heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and fry slowly for about 4 minutes, until softened. Add the rice and turn up the heat to medium high. Keep stirring it for a minutes, until the recipe begins to look slightly translucent. Add the vermouth or wine and keep stirring.

Once the vermouth or wine has been cooked into the rice, add the roasted garlic cloves and thyme. Then, add your first ladleful of stock of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a high-ish simmer so that the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and almost massaging the creamy starch from the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. Also make sure to break up the garlic cloves.

After about 15 minutes of adding stock, taste the rice. Is it cooked? It should be soft, but with a slight bite in the center. If it is not, carry on adding stock until it is.

Remove the pan from heat and add the butter and Parmesan. Stir gently. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes. This makes the risotto more creamy and delicious. If the butter isn’t melted completely after 2 minutes, stir it in until incorporated.

Spoon the risotto into shallow bowls. Top each serving with a big dollop of Mascarpone and a sprinkle of the toasted breadcrumb and almond mixture. Serve immediately, as the risotto will cool quickly. Leave the Mascarpone and toasted breadcrumb/almond mixture out on the table while eating for people to add more as wanted.

Happy dining!!

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