Heston Blumenthal, chef at the Fat Duck in Bray, England, gave us the recipe for this dish, which was inspired by his trip to Transylvania. Blumenthal substitutes spelt, a wheat berry found in most supermarkets, for the more common short-grain rice to give the risotto a nutty flavor and a toothsome bite.
- 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1 cup spelt, soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed
- 1⁄4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1 small beet, peeled and cut into 1/8" cubes
- 1⁄3 cup crème fraîche
- 2 tbsp. prepared horseradish
- 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1⁄4 small bulb fennel, cored and thinly shaved on a mandoline
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup beet juice
- 1 1⁄2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp. canola oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 1⁄2 cup madeira
- 1⁄2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
Bring 6 cups salted water to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan, add spelt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente (the spelt will retain a slight crunch), 15–20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Whisk together 1⁄4 tsp. salt, vinegar, and sugar in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved; add beet cubes and let marinate for 1 hour. Drain and chill beets. In a small bowl, mix together crème fraîche and horseradish; set aside in refrigerator. In another small bowl, toss together olive oil and fennel and season with salt and pepper; set aside in refrigerator.
Pour beet juice into a 1-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until reduced by half; set beet juice aside and let cool. Meanwhile, heat chicken stock in a small saucepan over medium heat; set aside and keep warm. Heat canola oil in a 10" skillet over medium heat and add garlic and shallots; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 2–3 minutes. Add spelt and cook, stirring often, until lightly toasted, 2–3 minutes. Add madeira and cook until it is reduced to a thick syrup, about 5 minutes. Add half of reserved chicken stock and cook, stirring often, until absorbed, about 8 minutes. Add the remaining stock, 1⁄4 cup at a time, and cook until it is absorbed before adding the next amount. Add the reduced beet juice and cook, stirring often, until liquid is creamy and spelt is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in Parmesan and butter, and season with salt and pepper; let risotto sit for 3 minutes.
To serve, divide the risotto between 4 shallow serving bowls and top with a dollop of the reserved horseradish cream. Garnish the risotto with the reserved fennel and beet cubes. Serve warm.