Featured Wisconsin Cheeses: Gran Queso, Parmesan
Tiny orzo, which resembles the rice used to make Italian risotto, is cooked slowly in chicken broth then combined with Wisconsin Gran Queso Cheese (which is similar to Spanish Manchego Cheese), Wisconsin Parmesan, butter and cream to make a creamy macaroni and cheese-like dish. Pimentos, olives, crispy Serrano ham and smoked paprika almonds add more Spanish elements and textural contrast to the dish.
Risotto Style Mac & Cheese
5-6 thin slices Serrano ham
1/4 cup slivered or sliced almonds
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Kosher or sea salt
4 cups low-sodium or homemade chicken broth
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound orzo pasta
2 shallots, finely diced
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups (8 ounces) Wisconsin Gran Queso Cheese, finely grated
½ cup (2 ounces) Wisconsin Parmesan, finely grated
1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half
1 4 ounce jar pimentos, diced
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and diced
Slice or tear the Serrano ham into thin strips and lay them on a paper towel-lined plate. Microwave for a minute or so until crispy. You’ll want to keep a close eye on them as they go from cooked to burnt in a matter of seconds. Remove from microwave and set aside.
In a microwave-safe bowl add slivered or sliced almonds, 1/2 tablespoon butter, smoked paprika and a pinch of salt. Cook for 1 minute then stir. Cook for another minute or so until the almonds start to dry up, spread on paper towel to cool.
Pour the chicken stock into a saucepan and bring to a light simmer.
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil and add the dry orzo and shallots. Cook until the orzo is lightly browned, then add the white wine. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the wine is almost absorbed. Add the chicken stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring occasionally. Once the stock is absorbed, add another 1/2 cup or so and continue this pattern until the orzo has finished cooking. It should take 15-20 minutes. You may have stock leftover, or if you run out before the orzo is done, add water.
Once the orzo is done cooking, turn the heat down to low and add half of the shredded Gran Queso and stir until it is incorporated into the rice. Add the rest of the Gran Queso and the Parmesan and stir. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the cream and stir. Add the pimentos and olives. Check the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper as needed. Spoon into bowls for serving and top with shredded cheese, smoked paprika almonds and crispy strips of Serrano ham.
Print This Post
Gran Queso, Macaroni & Cheese, risotto, Wisconsin Cheese
Leave a Reply