Delicious Risotto from a Left Bank Restaurant in Paris

Our granddaughter, Edie, a college junior, arrived in Paris in early January to spend a semester in the city. She is the third generation of our clan to study in the City of Light. My husband Ron and I spent a whole year there on a junior year abroad program several decades ago, and her mom traveled to France’s capital for a semester abroad in the 1990s. All of us plus her dad (a true Francophile) couldn’t wait to see Edie during a short visit last month. All foodies, we were excited about having dinner the first night at L’Affable, a charming restaurant in the 7th arrondissement recommended by a good friend. We were not disappointed! Small, warm, and inviting, the restaurant offered a creative menu and an excellent wine list. Among the delicious dishes we sampled one stood out in particular–risotto with celery root, hazelnuts, and Tomme de Savoie cheese. Every mouthful of this creamy rice dish, scented with the assertive yet complementary flavor of celeriac and the nutty taste of the cheese, was enticing.

Back home, I created my own version by blanching diced celery root until tender, then pureeing and swirling it into a pot of cooked risotto. On my first try I used delectable Tomme de Savoie cheese available at Whole Foods, but aged Gruyère worked equally well in a second rendition. Crushed, toasted hazelnuts and chopped parsley made a colorful garnish.

The following recipe yields two generous main course portions, but you can double it easily to serve four. I never make risotto for more than four because this is a dish that requires the cook to stand patiently and slowly stir small amounts of hot stock into a saucepan of arborio rice until the rice has expanded and is tender. It’s also best served soon after it is made. I hope you’ll enjoy this Paris risotto as much as we did! Bon appétit to everyone!


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Paris Risotto with Celery Root, Gruyère, and Hazelnuts

1 1/2 cups diced celery root (From about 1/2 pound celery root peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes- See market tip.)
2 cups chicken stock plus a few extra tablespoons if needed
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp finely chopped shallots
1 tbsp finely diced celery (cut into 1/4-inch dice)
3/4 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup grated Gruyère, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped (See cooking tip.)
1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

1.Place the diced celery root in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Set over high heat and bring water to a boil. Lower heat to a good simmer and cook until cubes are very tender when pierced with a sharp knife, 20 minutes or more. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon of the water. Puree the celery root in a food processor, pulsing for 30 to 60 seconds, or mash the mixture with a potato masher until smooth. Add the tablespoon of water to loosen mixture.Transfer pureed celery root to a bowl and set aside.

2.Add chicken stock to a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to a slight simmer.
In another medium, heavy saucepan set over medium heat, melt butter. When hot, add shallots and celery and stir until both are softened, a minute or two. Add rice and stir to coat well for 1 minute. With a ladle or measuring cup, add 1/4 cup of the simmering stock to the rice, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until all the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding stock in 1/4 cup amounts, cooking and stirring, until each addition has been absorbed before adding the next. When done, the rice should be creamy but not runny, tender but still a little firm. If you are doing a double recipe, start with 1/4 cupfuls of the stock and after 3 or 4 of these, switch to 1/2 cupfuls.(You may not need a few extra tablespoons of stock; it’s okay if these last tablespoons are not heated.) Add the wine and cook, stirring until absorbed. This whole process should take 15 to 20 minutes or more.

3.Stir 1/2 cup of the Gruyère cheese into the risotto, and then gradually stir in the pureed celery root. Season risotto with salt and pepper. (If your stock was reduced sodium, you’ll need to add more salt.) Mound risotto in two shallow bowls, and sprinkle each serving with two tablespoons of the remaining Gruyère cheese. Combine the hazelnuts and parsley and sprinkle over each serving.

Serves 2

Market tip: Celery root, which has a brown, gnarly exterior and creamy flesh beneath, has a more concentrated flavor than celery stalks. Use a sharp knife to remove the skin and any dark spots, then dice the flesh. Celery root is available in the produce section of many supermarkets. Store it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Cooking tip: To toast hazelnuts spread them on a rimmed baking sheet and place in a preheated 350° F oven until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Watch carefully so nuts do not burn. Remove and place nuts in a kitchen towel and rub off as much of the skins as possible.

Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2024

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