Ham and Mushroom Risotto

If you make my Mulled Cider Ham you will almost certainly have leftovers. Here is an interesting way to use some of them. This risotto is rather sweet because of the brown sugar in the mulled cider but not cloyingly so. It is similar to the sweetness of good baked beans. If you prefer it less sweet, dilute the cider with water or stock. Except for the ratio of rice to liquid do not take the quantities of ingredients too seriously. This is a dish that benefits from improvisation.

Ingredients

Fat trimmed from leftover ham, diced – ¼ cup (70 grams)

Leftover mulled cider diluted with water or stock – 3 cups (720 milliliters)

Mushrooms, sliced – 4 ounces (110 grams)

Onion, minced – ¼ cup (80 grams)

Ham, cubed – 8 ounces (220 grams)

Arborio rice – 1 cup (300 grams)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Put the fat into a heavy-bottomed sauce pan and almost cover with water. If you do not have enough fat from the ham, add a bit of bacon. Bring to a boil then cook over medium heat until the water is gone and the fat is rendered. Strain off the fat and set aside. You can either add the cracklings to the risotto with the ham, discard them, or—best of all—snack on them.

Bring the cider to a simmer in a small pan on a separate burner. Maintain it at a gentle simmer throughout.

Return about a tablespoon (15 milliliters) of the rendered fat to the pan and sauté the mushrooms over medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add another tablespoon of the fat to pan and sauté the onions for 3 or 4 minutes until translucent Add the cubed ham and brown it lightly.

Raise the heat to medium-high, put a bit more fat or olive oil into the pot if needed, and stir in the rice. Cook the rice, stirring constantly, until it becomes chalky looking, about 5 minutes.

Pour in a cup (250 milliliters) or so of the cider and stir constantly until almost completely absorbed. Continue to add the rest of the cider about 2 ounces (60 milliliters), stirring constantly until nearly absorbed before the next addition.

When you have put about ¾ of the cider into the risotto, fold in the mushrooms, and continue to add liquid until it is gone.

I found that after adding all the cider, the rice was still just a bit crunchy—you want it nicely al dente—so I covered the pan and let it sit off the heat for about ten minutes before serving.

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