Monday, December 21, 2009

Any excuse for risotto, really.

I admittedly didn't know much about Winter Solstice before today, other than it falls on December 21 and it's the shortest day of the year. But I don't like not knowing things, so I consulted my own personal holiday savior...Google.

Here are the Cliffnotes: Pretty much every ancient culture celebrated Midwinter with slaughters and music and feasting...with traditions like gift giving and other things which have actually evolved into many modern day Christmas traditions. Interesting. And now you know.

And since holidays are fun excuses for fancy meals, I went with it and created my own little Winter Solstice feast. Add a little music and I've got two outta three...and I don't slaughter, so that'll have to do.

It's not the easiest dish, but it goes much more smoothly if you do all the prep work ahead of time. Really, when it comes down to it, it's just fancy comfort food. Perfect for a winter feast, no?

Oh, and for you vegetarians out there...I know I label a lot of dishes as vegetarian even though I use chicken broth. I trust you know how to substitute veggie broth for chicken broth without me telling you, but I thought I would throw it out there anyway. Juuust in case.

Blue Cheese Fig stuffed Pork Chops
1 lb pkg Boneless pork chops
Fig spread/jelly (about 3 tbsp)
Crumbled blue cheese
salt and pepper
toothpicks (3 per chop)

This is an eyeball recipe...use as much or as little as looks right.

Heat oven to 450.
With a sharp knife, cut each chop down the side almost all the way through. Open the chop up(so it's butterflied), place between plastic wrap, and beat it with the flat side of a tenderizer (now that I have one!) til it's about a half inch thick or so. Spread a spoonful of jelly across the pork, sprinkle with some blue cheese (keeping it from getting too close to the edges), and fold the pork back together. Use toothpicks to "sew" up the open sides of each chop.

Sprinkle each piece with salt and pepper, and place in oven safe dish. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Bake about 12 minutes. Pull out, brush with a bit of jelly, and return to oven for another 5 minutes. Take out of oven and let sit for 10 minutes or so. Remove toothpicks, slice, and serve.
4 servings. About 250 cals, 8g fat, 1g fiber, 25g protein, 20g carbs

Winter Risotto
About 2/3 of a small head radicchio, thinly sliced
1 pkg cubed butternut or other winter squash (or a regular one, pre-cut is just a million times easier), cook according to directions
Half small brown onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
1 cup uncooked arborio rice
3 cups broth
1/2 cup white wine
2 tbsp fat free half and half
1/4 cup blue cheese
handful Parmesan cheese

Either mash or chop about a cup of the squash, set aside.
Spray dutch oven with cooking spray, heat over medium heat. Add radicchio and saute for about 3 minutes or until soft. Put in bowl, add large pinch pepper, mix.

Heat about 2 tsp olive oil in dutch oven over medium high, saute onion and garlic a couple minutes. Add rice, saute about a minute. Add wine, stir pretty much constantly until liquid is absorbed, then add 1/2 cup broth. Stir til absorbed, repeat 3 times (2 cups broth total). Stir in squash, then stir in 1/2 cup broth, let absorb (it'll take longer at this patient), then add the last 1/2 cup broth. When absorbed, stir in radicchio, half and half, and a large pinch each of salt and pepper. Turn off heat and stir in cheese.
Serves 4. About 275 cals, 8g fat, 3g fiber, 8g protein, 42g carbs

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