Repurposing Leftovers (Spinach Risotto and Lamb Stock)/Snowpocalypse
I am waiting for my first blizzard. We’re supposed to get two feet of snow in 24 hours. The Chicago Tribune says it could be potentially life-threatening! NPR predicted that this could be the third worst in Chicago’s history! Snowpocalypse!
The whole act of waiting like this for weather phenomena is strange to me. On the West Coast, we don’t know earthquakes are coming. When the weather gets suddenly hot and still, Angelenos nervously joke that it feels like earthquake weather. But in the 23 years I lived there, I don’t remember that type of weather actually ever foretelling an earthquake. In Chicago, we have days of doom and gloom predictions before the thing actually arrives. I’m curious to see if it lives up to all the hype. The winds are currently picking up and I’m beginning to see large snowflakes–so it may be starting as we speak.
I gave Johanna a ride home last night, and in the car she mentioned that it’s a good idea to have a few days’ worth of food on hand during blizzards, just in case. I got to thinking…how many days could I live off of what’s in my pantry? A week? Maybe two? So I came home, rifled through my cabinets and freezer, and made it a night of creative leftover reuse. I simmered a pot of lamb stock on the stove, filling the whole apartment with rich, gamey smells–then filling my freezer with stacks of stock reserves (so as to be ready for the next snowpocalypse, of course). And I concocted a risotto from the spinach soup I’d made a few weeks ago and had frozen half of (risotto is a great use for leftover purees).
I absolutely love making homemade stock–the process of sucking flavor from the very bones of a thing. Distilling the essence. Using every inch. Building toward future meals. I intend to make a lamb risotto with the stock I made, along with leftover meat from Garen’s braised lamb. I’m in a risotto mood lately–which you’ll see from the mushroom pea risotto I’ll post soon.
So, I spent last night watching the snow fall. Listening to Patsy Cline. Waiting for a pot of water and vegetables to simmer out flavor from used bones and marrow. Stirring rice over a hot stove. A hearty, stick-to-your-bones night. Snowpocalypse, be damned. My cupboard is full, and I’m ready for you.
Lamb bones (I used bones from 8 lamb shanks)
3–4 stalks of celery
fronds of one fennel bulb
1 yellow onion
2 bay leaves
2 sage leaves
2 rosemary sprigs
approx. 10 oz. of chicken stock
water to cover
Throw everything in a large pot and cover with liquids. Turn heat to med-high and bring to a simmer. Lower heat to med-low and simmer for a good 3 hours. Every 30 minutes, check the pot and, with a large spoon, carefully skim off the foam and discard.
Taste the stock when you think it’s done to see if it’s become rich and earthy enough. If so, strain, and let cool in tupperware. Once it’s cool, you can freeze some and refrigerate some. I like to freeze some in ice cube trays and then transfer to freezer bags so that they defrost more quickly and are ready to use when I need them.
32 oz. defrosted spinach soup (see previous post)
8 oz. stock
3–4 tbsp. olive oil
1 c. arborio rice
1 c. white wine
1 c. frozen peas
1 c. grated parmesan cheese
In a small pot, bring the spinach soup and stock to a simmer.
In a larger pot, warm the olive oil over medium. Saute the rice until it is coated in oil and turns slightly translucent. Add the wine and simmer until it reduces and gets nearly completely absorbed in the rice, stirring occasionally.
Ladle by ladle, add the warm soup/stock to the rice and stir it in until it is absorbed. Continue doing this until the rice is cooked through and really creamy. Add the peas and stir into the rice until they are heated through. Turn off the heat and add the cheese. Serve warm.