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Ruby Risotto With Sweet Beets, Blood Oranges and Horseradish Cream

4 small beets (1 pound), trimmed and scrubbed
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup red wine
1 cup red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup shallots, finely sliced
1 bayleaf
1 sprig fresh thyme

8 blood oranges
Juice of 2 lemons, plus peel from 1 lemon
1 fennel bulb, diced
1 cup riesling or dry white wine
2 cupsc hicken or vegetable broth
2 cups beet-pickling liquid
5 juniper berries
2 cloves

1/4 teaspoon anise seed
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 shallots, finely diced
1/2 pound Arborio rice
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish
Salt to taste
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
2 tablespoons finely snipped chives

To make the beets, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Wrap the beets
in aluminum foil and roast for about 45 minutes, or until soft;
cool and peel. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

Dissolve the sugar in the red wine and vinegar and add the shallots,
bay leaf and thyme. Let sit for 15 minutes. Strain, discarding
the thyme and bay leaf and reserving the shallots. Pour the pickling
liquid over the beets and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and
let cool for at least 1 hour. Strain and reserve liquid.

To make the risotto, remove the skin and white pith from the oranges
and cut them in half crosswise. Place in a large saucepan with
the lemon juice, lemon peel, fennel, wine, broth, 1 cup of the
beet-pickling liquid, the juniper berries, the cloves and the anise
seed. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes.
Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Add hot water to make 5 1/2 to
6 cups. Return to a boil. Lower the heat and keep hot but do not

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the diced shallots
and cook over medium heat until limp, about 5 minutes. Add the
rice and stir for 30 seconds, until the rice becomes translucent.

Add 1 1/2 cups of the liquid to the rice. Cook, stirring, over
medium-high heat until the mixture is almost dry. Repeat twice
more. Continue adding liquid until the rice is cooked through and
the mixture is creamy.

Boil 1 cup of beet-pickling liquid until reduced to 1/2 cup. Stir
in the pickled beets and the reserved shallots. Mix the sour cream
with the horseradish and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the risotto into 4 bowls, adding a dollop of beets. Swirl
horseradish cream around the rice. Garnish with chives.

Yield: Four servings.


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