Thursday, April 11, 2013

coconut risotto with lemongrass ginger chicken balls

We have finally started to get some consistent spring weather here in St. Louis... SUNSHINE! FLIP FLOPS! BEER WITH LEMON FLAVORING! FORGETTING HOW EASILY I BURN! So here is something to welcome the thaw: a trifecta of tropical flavors! Cool, sweet, spicy mango & cucumber salsa, rich, creamy, dreamy coconut risotto and bright lemongrass ginger chicken meatballs.

These all work well together, but can easily be made on their own for other applications. If you make one of these 3 things, you MUST make the coconut risotto. It is absolutely luscious. Like any risotto, it takes a bit of patience and lots of stirring, but wow is it worth your time. Super rich and creamy, and no cheese? Crazy talk. This could easily be made vegan by subbing vegetable stock, which makes me feel less sorry for vegans, because, man, I would eat this over traditional risotto without batting an eye.

The salsa and the balls just scream summer. The salsa would be great on grilled fish or chicken or on shrimp tacos. The balls could be served with a peanut sauce as an appetizer, or on a crisp salad. Mmmmm. Gosh, dear readers, 3 great recipes in 1 post this week. Aren't you lucky? :)

Mango Cucumber Salsa-1 mango, diced
-1/2 cucumber, seeded and diced
-2 green chiles, finely chopped
-2 shallots, finely chopped
-3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
-juice from 1 lime
-1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
-salt to taste 
Combine all the ingredients. Let marinate for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Coconut Risotto-1 Tablespoon coconut oil
-1 shallot
-1 cup Aborio Rice
-1 15 0z. can whole coconut milk
-2.5 cups duck stock (or chicken stock or vegetable stock)
-salt to taste 
Combine the coconut milk and stock in a sauce pan and place over low heat.
Melt the coconut oil in a separate sauce pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until they are translucent. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes.

Ladle about 3/4 cup of the coconut milk/stock mixture into the pan with the rice. Stir often until the liquid is absorbed by the rice, then add another ladle-ful and repeat. After 3 ladles, you can start adding a bit more liquid, but be sure to keep stirring... not necessarily constant stirring, but lots of stirring.... this is what releases the gluten from the grains of rice and makes it creamy! Test the rice to see when it is cooked to al dente... you may not use all of the liquid (but save it, it will help with re-heating leftovers). Serve hot.

Lemongrass Ginger Chicken Balls-1 lb. ground chicken
-2 Tablespoons lemongrass paste or 1 Tablespoon freshly minced lemongrass
-1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
-3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
-1/4 teaspoon cumin
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 egg
-1 cup plain bread crumbs 
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Combine all the ball ingredients in a bowl, using your hands to mix everything really well. Roll into small balls (1 1/2-inch diameter or so) and place in a greased oven-safe dish or on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 20 minutes, turning once. Serve on the coconut risotto or as appetizers.

2013: Year of MORE BALLS Posts:

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