This recipe, from Mourad Lahlou, the chef-owner of San Francisco's Aziza restaurant, is a happy marriage between classic Italian--saffron risotto--and one of the signature flavors of Lahlou's native Marrakech, preserved lemon, with a dash of Turkey thrown in (Marash peppers). Serve with Spice-Crusted Scallops or your favorite sautéed fish.
2 qts. reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 cups Carnaroli or Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup finely grated grana or parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives, plus more for garnish
Bring chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan, covered. Add saffron and reduce to a bare simmer, covered.
Melt butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed 8-qt. pot. Add onion; cook until translucent and turning golden, 10 minutes. Stir in thyme. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until edges of grains look translucent, about 2 minutes.
Add wine and salt to rice and cook, stirring, until wine is completely absorbed. Add about 1 cup hot broth and simmer, stirring, until absorbed; reduce heat to medium-low if mixture starts to boil. Keep adding broth, a ladleful at a time, stirring until each addition is absorbed before adding the next, until rice is just tender to the bite and still slightly soupy, 15 to 30 minutes. You may have broth left over.
Remove rice from heat and stir in cheese, crème fraîche, 2 tbsp. chives, the preserved lemon, and Marash pepper. Serve immediately with Spice-Crusted Scallops. Scatter more chives on top.
*Mildly hot, fruity Marash and Aleppo peppers are available at some Middle Eastern markets and by mail order from avantisavoia.com