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Let’s Cook! Using Stock to Make a Fast Meal

February 23, 2010

I’m taking a break from lambing (well, not really, taking a break from writing about lambing) to share a recipe for one of my favorite fast dishes: risotto/orzotto made with lamb stock. I confess I have come late to the joys of cooking with stock, and I’ve morphed from using a can of Campbell’s soup in the crock pot (all that salt!) to buying good quality stock at the grocery store to making my own. I usually make a batch that yields 2-4 quarts, depending on the meat I have on hand, and I freeze it in 2-3 cup portions, so that when I need it to make a quick meal, I can snag it out of the freezer at the last-minute and use it–the ultimate convenience ingredient. For those without the time or inclination to make their own, we are offering lamb stock made with Cordero Farms grassfinished lamb, but since we don’t have a certified kitchen, our good friend and co-packer, April Harrington at Earth Elements Market and Bakery, makes it for us.

I’m a huge fan of casseroles and other one-dish meals, but most of the time, they take more than an hour from start to plate due to spending so much time in the oven. On the other hand, you can be licking the bowl clean of your risotto in less than a half hour, and sometimes, that’s all the time I have to cook. For this post, I’m going to make risotto, which uses arborio rice, but you can use orzotto pasta instead, and it’s even a little faster to cook. If you’ve never made risotto, you might use orzotto the first time you try, since the pasta is a little more forgiving than the starchy rice.

Start by heating 2 cups of lamb stock in a small saucepan, just barely at a simmer. Do the same with 2-3 cups of water. You can use any kind of meat with this recipe–pork or lamb sausage, leftover roast, or even hamburger. I used some leftover lamb shank which I just added in towards the end, but if you need to brown some meat, this is where you add it in. In a large skillet, add two tablespoons of olive oil and saute 1/3 – 1/2 cup of onions and a few cloves of minced garlic on medium heat until the onions are translucent.

Use more onion and garlic if you prefer. Note the lamb stock simmering in the pan north of the onions.

Reduce the heat, and add 1 cup of risotto and toast it lightly until it’s golden.

It only takes a minute or two to toast the rice

Leaving the heat on low, add 1/2 cup of white wine and stir, cooking until it’s almost evaporated. Now add half of the lamb stock to the rice, stirring until the rice absorbs the liquid almost completely.

Keep the heat low, and you don't have to stir it constantly once you start adding the stock.

Repeat the same process by adding a cup of water and stirring, and once that is almost evaporated, you can add the rest of the lamb stock. Check the rice for doneness as the stock is finally absorbed. If it seems to still be too al dente, add one cup of water; if it feels closer to done, then just add 1/2 – 3/4 cup. At this point, I like to add a whole bunch of greens to steam while the rice cooks. If you are using leftover meat, add it here now.

I used spinach, but you can use whatever you have on hand--chard, kale, even collards!

Keep testing the rice (I just spoon a grain or two between my teeth), and once it’s done, fold in 1/2 cup to 1 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese.

The cheese and the starchy rice make a nice creamy finish

Remove it from the heat and spoon it into a bowl for serving. This recipe makes 2-3 dinner-sized portions.

Feel free to garnish with more cheese 🙂

Here’s the recipe summary:

2 cups lamb stock
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chopped onion (I like sweet onions, leeks or shalots work great also)
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
Sea salt
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
3/4 – 1 lb of beef, lamb, or veal (ground or diced into cubes)
1/2 bunch of spinach, kale, or other greens (use any amount you like)
In a small saucepan, heat the stock to a low simmer. Do the same with 2 cups of water in another saucepan.
If not using leftover meat, brown the meat with 1 T olive oil on medium. Add the greens when the meat is about half-cooked.
While the meat is cooking, prepare the orzo. In a skillet on medium heat, saute the garlic and onion in 2 T olive oil until the onion is translucent.
Reduce the heat. Add the rice (or orzo) and saute until it’s lightly toasted, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the wine and stir, cook until it’s almost evaporated. Now pour half of the stock into the skillet and cook until it’s almost absorbed, stirring as needed. Next, pour half of the water into the skillet and cook until it’s almost absorbed, stirring frequently. Finally, add the remaining stock and stir until it’s absorbed. Check the rice for doneness, and add more simmering water if and as needed. Total cooking time should be about 15-20 minutes.
Once the rice and meat are both cooked, combine in one of the skillets. Add the cheese and stir thoroughly.
Serves 2-3.

A great fast food meal you can make at home! Off to check on Siouxsie, who seems like she might be going into labor.

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