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Crispy Goat Cheese Risotto Cakes with Warm Winter Pears

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  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 3 to 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock, warmed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4-1/3 cup flour
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2/3 cup fine bread crumbs

warm winter pears

  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons flaked sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 pears, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme


  • In a large saucepan heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the garlic and cook for 15 seconds. Add the rice, tossing to coat in the oil, then toast the rice while stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes. Add in the wine, stirring every few minutes until it is absorbed. Once the wine is absorbed, add in 1 cup of stock, stirring until absorbed like you did with the wine. Repeat 2 to 3 more times, until all stock has been added and absorbed. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes – I do not stir constantly, but actually just keep an eye on it and stir every few minutes. Taste the rice and determine if it is cooked to your liking (if not, add in 1 more cup of stock and stir, repeating the process). Unlike regular risotto, I cook mine here until all liquid is absorbed, just so the patties stick together better.
  • Once the risotto is cooked, let it cool completely. You can do this the night before or a day ahead of time. Add the risotto to a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge until it’s chilled. When you’re ready to make the cakes, stir the flour into the risotto. Crumble the goat cheese into the mixture and stir until it’s evenly combined. If needed, add a little more flour until the mixture is just moldable.
  • Add the breadcrumbs to a bowl and mix. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the remaining olive oil (in batches, if necessary). Form the risotto mixture into equal-sized cakes about 2 inches in diameter. Roll the cakes in the breadcrumbs and place them in the skillet, cooking until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove each cake and let it sit on a paper towel for a few minutes before serving. Top with the pears.

warm winter pears

  • To make the vanilla salt, add the vanilla beans and salt together in a bowl. Rub it together with your fingers to disperse the beans – you can do this ahead of time and keep it in a sealed container. You can easily make more or less!
  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil and butter. Add the pears with 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla salt and toss to coat, cooking until the pears softened slightly, about 5 minutes. Drizzle in the honey and toss. Add the thyme and cook for another 2 minutes. Place the pears and any liquid in the skillet in a bowl for serving. Use the remaining vanilla salt if needed to season the dish or keep it sealed in a container for another use.

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