Last month was that happiest time of the year for the people who work for my employer — annual bonus time. Normally I don’t pay much heed to my bonus, just enjoying the bit of breathing space it gives me if it’s my month to pay the mortgage, although I did once upgrade us from a futon to a cheap couch with it. This year I decided to treat myself to something cool, and splurged on an heirloom prosciutto from La Quercia. I’d gotten a sampler of some of their amazing cured pork products for Christmas, and figured this would be a scrumptious addition to my pantry for the next few months. Of course, I couldn’t have a prosciutto without a meat slicer, could I? So, yeah, I splurged on that, too.
The prosciutto itself is out of this world. It is so buttery and rich, with a depth to the flavor of the meat itself that puts the pre-packaged deli “prosciutto” that my bobo grocery store sells to shame. (I suspect that stuff is just thin-sliced regular ham, actually.) It’s exquisite. I am so excited about all the things I’m going to be able to make with this; it’s the kind of foodstuff that makes a meal extraordinary.
Meanwhile, the slicer is the bomb. I was more than a little terrified of it, but it turns out that it’s amazingly simple to use, and remarkably good at its job.
In trying to decide what meal to kick my new meat-slicer-and-prosciutto era off with, I decided I was desperately in the mood for asparagus risotto. Of course, Pookie hates asparagus, and while she likes the flavor of prosciutto, she’s not a fan of the texture. So I decided to make a creamy leek risotto with chicken (so I wasn’t just feeding my sister rice and leeks for dinner), and then added the asparagus and prosciutto to my bowl and Boomer’s when Pookie wasn’t looking.
It was all pretty simple and on-the-fly — I sauteed some chicken (one whole boneless, skinless breast, cut into small pieces) in olive oil in a dutch oven, then removed it from the pot. In the same pot I melted a tablespoon of butter with a tablespoon of olive oil and then sweated the leeks (two of them, white and light green parts only, chopped relatively fine and carefully rinsed) in that. Then I stirred in two cups of arborio rice and let them get a nice coating of the oil before stirring in about a half cup of white wine. Once the liquid was all absorbed, I added about a cup of hot chicken stock, and did the risotto thing: stir pretty regularly, simmer on low heat, let the liquid absorb, then add more stock. I used something in the neighborhood of seven cups of stock. When the rice was all tender and everything was creamy, I seasoned with salt and black pepper, and stirred the chicken back into the pot along with about a half a cup of fresh grated parmesan cheese. Overall, pretty basic, but still, pretty tasty. And with the addition of some steamed asparagus and that mind-blowing prosciutto? This became a masterpiece. Okay, maybe not a masterpiece, but it was pretty damn delicious.