Roasted Red Beet Risotto with Pan Seared Salmon

Red Beet Risotto with Pan Seared Salmon

I have been anxiously waiting through the record-heat months of September and October 2012 to cook with some of my favorite Fall ingredients, such as kale, butternut squash, pumpkin, and beets.

I was recently inspired by a dish created by our kitchen team at The Pacific Club using beets in a way I had never used them before: in risotto.

I had never even thought to put the two ingredients together before - but it was striking to look at. The chef used the beet risotto as a compliment to pan-seared salmon; the little red "pearls" of arborio rice stood out beautifully against the orange flesh of the salmon, and just when I thought it was just a pretty dish to look at, I took a bite. The balance of  the flavor of the beets with the rice and the salmon was perfect. I asked chef the basics of how he made his risotto, and he said he folded in roasted beet puree during the final stages before plating.

I knew this was one of the next foodie things I was going to try.


2-3 small red beets, roasted and peeled
2 T butter
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 C arborio rice (or other risotto rice)
1/2 C white wine
3-4 C chicken stock or broth, heated in a separate pot
salt and pepper
**grated Parmesan cheese optional

(Roasted Beets: Pre-heat oven to 375F; place beets in a baking dish with peel still on and toss with a little olive oil; cover with foil and roast for 30-40 mins or until tender; allow to cool before handling.)

Carefully remove the peel of the beet from the beet away

Peeled Beet
Heat a mediums sized sauce pan over medium heat and melt butter; add shallots and sweat for about 5-7 minutes, to soften the shallots.

Meanwhile, add cooled beets to a food processor; puree the beets until completely smooth; season with a little salt and pepper.

Lucy, my kitchen Sous Chef for the evening
Once shallots are soft; add the garlic and stir for about a minute to cook the garlic.

Add the arborio rice to the pan and bring the heat to medium-high; stir the rice for about 2 minutes, slightly toasting the rice with the shallots and garlic.

Add white wine; bring to a boil and cook until there is no more wine in the pan, constantly stirring.

Begin adding hot chicken broth to the rice, a few ladles at a time, enough to cover the rice, and continue to stir over medium to medium low heat, allowing the rice to absorb all of the liquid before adding another stage of liquid to the rice.

Once the rice has absorbed the broth, begin adding another few ladles to the rice (enough to cover) and continue process over again, a total of 3-4 times, until rice is al dente/soft, and appears to be creamy.

Season salmon with salt and pepper; heat olive oil in a non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat and sear in the pan for about 5-7 minutes; turn salmon and continue to cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

While salmon is either cooking or resting, add beet puree to the rice and stir together thoroughly.

Season with salt and pepper and add grated Parmesan cheese (if desired).

And plate!

Cheers and enjoy!

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Sauteed Onions and Brie

Chicken Breast Stuffed with Sauteed Onions and Brie
While in college, I really got into reading Cooking Light Magazine. I wouldn't necessarily follow the recipes, but I would browse through every page looking for "healthier" versions of dishes that I liked to eat. Back in 1998, I came across their recipe for "Brie and Caramelized Onion Chicken Breasts" and knew I had to try it. The recipe called for 3 of my favorite things: caramelized onions, brie, and of course white wine.

It became a staple. I began cooking it when I was at home with my family on the weekends, tweaking it as I cooked along. Sorority sisters, who would join on weekend getaways to my parents house, became fans and spoke about this dish back at school the next week. When we finally all lived in our "first" apartments off campus our Senior year, I was asked to make it for a pledge class/group girls dinner. I will never forget prepping about 20 of these chicken breasts in my little kitchen with no dishwasher off of 27th street, trucking everything over to a friends house, to enjoy this amazing yet simple chicken dish, that was on the healthy side as well. This was one of my "first" times cooking for a larger group all on my own, and as I grew my catering company in early 2003 I often thought about that meal and the group of best friends that I had cooked for and how that evening had kinda been the "jumping off" point for my cooking career to come.

Over the years, many of those same sorority sisters would remind me "remember when you made that super yummy brie-chicken dish...", and I would always say "I haven't made that in so long, I have to do that again!" But, it wasn't until this past August that I thought to return to this recipe, not only for the flavor and simplicity of the dish, but also to return to the memories of making it that night in college. We recently lost one of our "sisters" to brain cancer, and as we all gathered for her beautiful services in August, we embraced over stories from college and memories of our dear friend, including that night that I made this chicken. I promised to make it and post it here. 

Cheers and Enjoy.

Rest in peace, dear Jackie. You are and will always be missed. FIGHT ON.

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2 tbsp olive oil, separated
1 small onion (or 1/2 large onion), thinly sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 C white wine
1/2 C chicken broth or stock
2 oz brie, rind removed, and cut into small pieces
2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

Onions, sage, and garlic

Desired thinness of the garlic slices

Sauteeing the onions

Heat Olive oil in saute pan over medium heat and add onions; season with salt and pepper. Saute over medium to medium-low hear, for about 20-30 minutes, until the onions are caramelized and golden brown. Add garlic and saute for about 5 minutes until the garlic gets soft and aromatic.

Getting golden brown!

Add the garlic...

Turn heat to high and add white wine and chicken broth; reduce liquid, scraping up bits in pan, until completely dry. Remove from heat and add to bowl with brie; stir to combine and melt brie. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Place in refrigerator to chill about 20 minutes (this can be done a day in advance).

Liquid evaporating

Cut a horizontal slit into the thickest portion of the breast to form a pocket (make sure to not go all the way through to the other side); stuff breasts with the onion-brie mixture and secure pocket with 1-2 toothpicks. Season both sides with salt and pepper.

Chicken pocket

Stuffing the chicken

Securing the chicken with toothpicks - it is ok if a little oozes out

Preheat oven to 350F. Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat; add chicken and cook for about 7 minutes; flip chicken and place in oven for another 6-7 minutes. Remove from oven and loosely tent with foil for about 10 minutes.

Serve with fried sage leaves.