Friday, March 9, 2012

Tonight's Noms: Sweet Soy Pork and Risotto-Stuffed Tomatoes

Wow, this was a really good dinner. I had initially planned to try and make this earlier in the week, but life intervened, as it always does. The budget challenge this week a vegetarian theme with tomatoes as the main ingredient, and I'd calculated everything out perfectly such that the tomato would be a good, filling meal on its own. Sadly, it's winter, and tomatoes aren't in season, so the fruit I ended up with was both overpriced and small - still well within the allocated budget at just $1.75 apiece, but even with the risotto piled up high, the tomatoes didn't seem big enough to suit my fattie appetite. So, I entered my vegetarian roasted tomato soup recipe instead, and ate this as a side dish.

I found my cool plates! Also, an in-focus picture!

I even started out the day making some chicken stock from the salvaged carcass of the other night's chicken and dumplings (yes, you can still make stock from the remains of a boiled chicken). This stock went into the risotto, but it could just as easily be made with vegetable broth or diluted bullion. The pork chops were marinated with a mixture of sweet soy, worchestershire, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and the handy-dandy steakhouse seasoning grinder, which is a mixture of peppercorns, garlic, and a couple of other spices.

The recipe for the tomatoes is below, and the risotto mixture is written up for the amount I made - which would have been perfectly fine for a large, ripe summer beefsteak tomato, but these winter vine-ripened globes were smaller and more dense than I'd really hoped for. I'll definitely be making this again once our tomatoes start to come in this summer.

Ready to be topped with parmesan cheese and popped in the oven.

Risotto-Stuffed Tomatoes
  • 1 cup short grain rice (valencia is cheaper than arborio and works well)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp garlic powder, or 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 large mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 cups heated vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 large beefsteak tomatoes
  • about 1 ounce grated parmesan cheese
Heat oil in a small pot over medium heat, and add rice, mushrooms, and garlic, stirring to coat the rice. Continue to heat and stir the mixture until the rice becomes clear. Ladle in about a cup of broth, stir, and bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes, then reduce heat to low. Once all the liquid has been absorbed into the rice, add basil and stir in additional broth one ladle-full at a time. Continue to cook and stir broth until the rice is cooked through, stirring occasionally to break up the starches on the rice. Add salt and pepper conservatively throughout the cooking process; if desired, additional parmesan can be added to the rice to add salt and additional flavor. The risotto should have a creamy texture when finished. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before filling tomatoes.

Slice the tops off of the tomatoes and hollow them out, stirring the inner bits of the tomato into the risotto. Spoon risotto into the tomatoes and top with parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until the skin of the tomatoes has split and the rice throughout the tomato is warm.

Total prep/cook time: 75 minutes
Happiness rating: 8/10 - this needs to be done again during tomato season

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