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tomato and turkey risotto

September 6, 2010

A couple of years ago, I did an exchange program for college called Williams-Mystic, which is a maritime studies program that’s basically the greatest thing since sliced bread for several reasons—one of which is that they split the 20 kids or so who come each semester into four or five houses. In my house, I was the only one who’d really done any cooking before (which isn’t saying much), so I wound up making dinner every night. 

One of the people in my house didn’t eat red meat, and two of them couldn’t eat pork for religious reasons, so I ended up experimenting a lot with chicken/turkey substitutions (not to mention buying said chicken/turkey in advance and storing it in the freezer like my mom does…but that’s another story). 

This recipe was one of the ones I practiced my swapping skillz on. I’ve gotta say, it skeeves me out a little how ground turkey doesn’t brown when you cook it, like any other meat, but instead gets undersides-of-my-forearms-in-winter white. (To which C said, “You mean…like chicken?” Yes. Like chicken. But different!) But be that as it may, it still tastes pretty good, if not quite as good as beef…and especially when it’s all flavored up in a dish like this. 

So when C and I wanted a side dish/co-main course for our pizza (coming up in a later post—along with the results of our bonfire dessert), I knew this would fit the bill. It’s rich and filling, but not so overwhelming that we couldn’t also have a piece (or two…) of pizza along with it. It’s not too complicated, and while it does require pretty frequent stirring so the bottom layer of risotto doesn’t burn and stick to the pan, it’s pretty easy to do that and mix up a salad at the same time. Not that I did that. I don’t really do salads.

Tomato and Turkey Risotto
[The original recipe called for (regular, not turkey) sausage, so to make up for that, we added some spices to the turkey with the onion using the grab-and-sprinkle method—grab basically whatever comes to hand that would go reasonably well with turkey and sprinkle it over the meat. I think we ended up using rosemary, dried chives, thyme, and oregano, but probably most anything that goes with Italian-type dishes would work well, too.]
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1.3-lb. package ground turkey
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine 
1 bunch spinach (10 to 14 oz.), washed well, tough stems removed, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a small saucepan, combine tomatoes (with their juice) and 3 cups water. Bring just to a simmer; keep warm over low heat.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add turkey and onion; season with salt and pepper and other spices. Cook, breaking up turkey with a spoon, until turkey is opaque and onion has softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Add rice; cook, stirring, until well coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine; cook, stirring, until absorbed, about 1 minute.
4. Add about 2 cups hot tomato mixture to rice; simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until absorbed, 4 to 5 minutes. Continue adding tomato mixture, 1 cup at a time, waiting for one cup to be absorbed before adding the next, stirring occasionally, until rice is creamy and just tender, about 25 to 30 minutes total (you may not have to use all the liquid).
5. Remove pan from heat. Stir in spinach and Parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately (risotto will thicken as it cools).

Source: slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen 

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