Before I launch into this one I need to give credit where credit is due, I don’t want to be accused of plagerism and recipe pillaging here! This is an adaptation of a Maggie Beer recipe that I’ve stayed pretty true to in terms of flavours but replaced the rice with a combination of quinoa and CauliGyver rice.
I also wanted to it be a whole meal in a bowl type of dish, because I’m a lazy bastard like that, so I added a few extra veggies and some chicken thighs. Of course if you’re of the vego breed of eater this is easily adapted to suit your needs by omitting the bacon and chicken. If this is the case you might want to add extra mushies to flesh it out a bit but aside from that there’s so much else going on that the taste won’t suffer at all, you’ll still get the same rich depth of flavour and a hearty, and incredibly beautiful meal at the end.
Get this stuff
300 grams CauliGyver rice
¼ C quinoa, well rinsed
1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large beetroot
2 rashers smoky bacon, chopped
½ C reserved beetroot cooking liquid
750 mls – 1 L chicken or vegetable stock
½ C verjuice
2 T olive oil
1 T butter
½ t salt
½ t ground black pepper
100 grams celery, cubed
200 grams button mushrooms, chopped
30 grams parmesan, finely grated
zest and juice of 1 large lemon
300 – 400 grams chicken thighs or breast cut into chunks. I prefer thighs for this as they have a bit more fat they’re more flavoursome and will also stay lovely and juicy
Good handful freshly chopped parsley
Additional lemon wedges
Do this with it
Starting with the star of the show grab your beautiful ruby beets, give them a ruddy good scrub then toss them into a saucepan of salted water. Bring it to the boil then reduce the heat and leave it to simmer until the beets are tender when you stab them with a skewer. This can take an hour or more so make sure you factor this into your cooking time.
If you’re anything like me I know what you’re thinking ‘motherfucker, I don’t have an hour to cook bloody beetroot!’ and at dinner time when you just need to get some food on the table, who the hell does? So, if you know you’re going to make this meal then plan ahead a bit, do the beets the night before or in throw them on in the morning when you’re doing your morning shit then they’ll be all ready to go when you need them. Whatever you do don’t start making this meal when you’re already fucking starving then have to eat your own arm while you’re waiting.
Whenever you decide to cook them, once the beets are soft, drain them but reserve the liquid, you’re going to use some of it in the risotto and the rest can also be used to make a fun pink veggie stock if you want to be fancy pants. Once they’ve cooled enough to handle gently remove the skins by giving them a firm stroke (cue grubby innuendo) and hey presto it’ll just slip off in your hand. Now your beets are nudie you need to grate them and set them aside for the moment while you get the rest of the party into gear.
Grab a large heavy based pan or stock pot but make sure you have one with a lid that fits – this is essential for cooking the risotto properly, trust me, I tried without and it was just a big piss off waste of my time and patience.
Heat the pan, toss in the olive oil and knob of butter and gently brown the bacon for a minute or two – note brown not fry to a crisp, it’s all about the rich flavour here. Next in are the onions and garlic and again treat them with a bit of gentle love and sauté until soft, fragrant and lightly golden.
And now to turn this pan of golden goodness into risotto. Make sure the pan is at a medium low heat then add the well rinsed and drained quinoa. Give it a good stir around to coat in all those lovely flavours then pour in the verjuice and keep it all moving gently for a couple of minutes until the liquid has absorbed. Next pour in ½ C of the reserved beet cooking liquid,1 C of stock, salt and pepper, stir thoroughly and then pop the lid on the pan. After about 10 minutes most of the liquid should have absorbed so add another cup of stock, stir and replace the lid again.
After about 20 minutes cooking time you’ll see the little quinoa tails have started to sprout which means it’s time to make pretty pink magic. Add the grated beet, celery and mushroom and one more cup of stock, stir it all in thoroughly and allow a few minutes for the veggies to soften. For the non-vegos it’s time to add the bird to the beet; throw the roughly chopped chicken into the mix and push it down so it’s all nestled nice and cosy in amongst all that risotto goodness to poach. Replace the lid for 5-10 minutes to let the chicken bathe in all that flavour that is now reaching epic proportions.
Finally it’s time for my other favourite champion can-do-anything ingredient – CauliGyver. Pour in your riced cauli, add one final ½ C of stock and stir in all thoroughly.You still need a bit of liquid in there at this stage so if you can’t see it bubbling away around the edges add a little more, the trick is to add it gradually so you don’t end up with a sloppy mess. Cover with the lid again and leave it for 8-10 minutes for the cauli rice to soften and absorb the liquid as well as the colours and flavours. This is a good time to taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper if required. Remove the lid and if there’s any excess liquid leave it on the heat to allow it to evaporate, you want to achieve that creamy, thick risotto consistency.
Take the pan off the heat and stir through the parmesan. Trust me, this really adds that authentic fuck-this-is-amazing risotto richness to the flavour so unless you’re allergic or have taken some sort of crazy arse no dairy vow of abstinence I’d highly recommend you get your cheese on to make the most of this dish.
Ladle it into two of your best looking bowls, hell yes, get the good china out for this one and see how much better it makes your hard work taste. Top with a dollop of horseradish cream, a decent sprinkling of parsley and a couple of lemon wedges. Now, step back, pause and admire your creation of culinary mastery; beautiful, colourful and as you’ll soon discover, outrageously good. Bowl licking good in our house.