After first reading the recipe, it was confusing to me why the chef was pairing serrano peppers with lamb and risotto. Then I took note of the author and it all made sense - the recipe, Lamb Shanks with Sweet Potato Risotto and Serrano Vinegar Sauce, is a Bobby Flay, the king of hot peppers, recipe.
Whoever picked this Food Network Friday choice at Vegan Appetite, did very well. I am all into mushrooms and I have not yet had the pleasure of making risotto because I have always been scared off by all the hype on Hell's Kitchen and other sundry shows where the risotto has to be just perfect, otherwise shame is brought on the chef and her descendants. Hence, to me, risotto is equated with a bunch of stress. Again, Tami manages to push me out of my comfort zone.
I remember reading somewhere that your risotto is perfect when the rice is al dente and when you stir the rice, moving your wooden (only wooden, folks!) spoon across the bottom of the pan, if the rice stays out of the cleared path and only moves back to its homogeneous consistency after a few seconds. Voila! Perfect risotto. Unless someone has a more perfect suggestion? Of course, if you leave your risotto on the stove, anticipating the other fifty components of your dish to be complete, it might harden up on you. Loosen it with a bit more hot water until you get the cleared-path-on-the-bottom-of-the-pan effect again.
Speaking of the components of this meal, let me run it down for you:
1) make protein, I made Lamb-tan. Witty, right?
2) sear seitan
3) chop onion, carrot, mushroom
4) cook onions, carrots
5) reduce wine completely
6) braise seitan
7) heat water
8) cook risotto
9) bake, peel and mash sweet potato
10) roast mushrooms
11) toast pine nuts
12) reduce balsamic vinegar
13) strain sauce and reduce
14) assemble the plate
15) serve (finally!)
And a lot of us complain about the ingredients list in recipes (and this one wasn't shy in that department either, with 25 ingredients!) This was more like making a Thanksgiving meal in miniature. Keeping it all warm and ready when the component was needed was a challenge. A worthy practice for holiday cooking.
Chanterelles are called for by Flay, but I just used regular mushrooms. However, I did drizzle a bit of truffle oil on the dish. My fungus budget went to the truffles this time.
I also added some flour at the beginning of the braise because unlike baby sheep, seitan does not have any animal protein/gelatin to thicken the sauce.
(I'll take flour over baby sheep any day.)
As for the results - they were worth the effort. After perusing the recipe, I realized it would be more of a company-meal or at least one that would suit an important occasion because of its elegance. For us, that occasion was appropriately Tami's Food Network Friday.