Grapefruit Risotto. Wait, what?

I’ve never quite grasped the allure of grapefruit. Rather, eating the fruit by itself (usually photographed with half a neon-red cherry stuck in the middle to hide the navel-like cross-section of its core.) It was once the very icon of dieting; as if punishing yourself first thing in the morning with bitterness would lead to losing weight. If anything, I’d imagine it makes you crave something sweet which kinda goes against the point. I can count on one hand the number of grapefruit I've purchased in my lifetime; two of those were in the last month.

Judy Rogers, the late chef of Zuni Cafe in San Francisco, includes this recipe in her brilliant cookbook. She admits that even the mention of this dish gets the most bizarre responses from her rookie kitchen staff. Still, there are a variety of recipes that befuddle at first but almost haunt with their absurdity. I’ve certainly been surprised before (yogurt pizza dough anyone?) so I had to try it.

It’s a little hard to describe the results except to say it doesn’t taste like you think it would. In one of those magical, chemical moments, it all comes together into a unified and surprisingly simple dish. It would be tough for most people to guess the odd ingredient as cooking transforms both aroma and flavor.

Fittingly, I made this alongside a simplified version of her roasted chicken recipe.

Grapefruit Risotto

  • Juice of 1 grapefruit
  • 1 cup carnaroli rice (though arborio would work just fine)
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 3 cups of chicken stock (in this case, sadly, store-bought)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (her recipe calls for mascarpone which would have worked better had I remembered to buy it 45 minutes earlier when I bought all of the other ingredients for this dish)
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
Saute the onion in the butter until softened
Add the rice, stir to coat the grains, and cook for a minute or two more, stirring occasionally
Add just enough stock to cover the rice well and bring the heat up to medium or so.
Stir occasionally, but don’t go crazy. If it sounds like it’s frying, time to add more stock, again, a little at a time. (You don’t want the grains swimming, but you don't want them to dry out either.)
Repeat this process but remember stirring continuously just makes you tired. Creaminess will happen just fine on its own.
Near the end of absorption, switch to adding the grapefruit juice. Stock can make up whatever more is needed. (I’m open for discussion on whether adding the grapefruit earlier or later is better.)
At the last minute, stir in the marscapone for a minute or two more to warm and combine.

Again, the result isn’t what you'd think and it doesn't scream “grapefruit” making this a great side dish for fish or chicken and maybe even a steak with an Asian-style sauce with ginger, soy (sauce or miso), and certainly rabbit.

However, the risotto by itself seemed a bit sparse. Fortunately, I had most of a fennel bulb loitering around so I roasted it. I admit to not roasting fennel quite often enough and it fits beautifully with the risotto.

If serving with chicken, I’d let it roast until well browned but with fish, I might lower the temperature and back off on the time by about 5-10 minutes to keep the flavor brighter and retain more of the anise notes.

1 fennel bulb cut into 6-8 pieces lengthwise
enough olive oil to coat all sides
Toss the fennel in the oil in a big fat roasting pan or wide fry pan and sprinkle with salt.
Roast at 450 for 10-15 minutes, then turn the pieces over and roast for another 10-15 (again, depending on the main course.)


Popular posts from this blog

All-Clad - Is it "All-That"?


Going Clear (in cocktails)