Risotto with parmigiano
Are y'all ready for an essential recipe?
This week's challenge for Pomodori e Vino is Risotto with Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Are y'all ready for an essential recipe?
This week's challenge for Pomodori e Vino is Risotto with Parmigiano-Reggiano.
I also love risotto, and make it often. Along with 00 flour and parmigiano, Arborio rice is one of the things I ALWAYS stash a couple of bags of in my extra piece of luggage. Doesn't everyone bring an empty suitcase for food shopping in Italy? I know one other Pomodori who does...
A few years ago, during a visit to Rome, we celebrated Brad's special birthday at Agata and Romeo. I was given a lovely gift by the hostess, a small book: 100 Risotti dei Migliori Ristoranti del Mondo. I have tried several, and have about seven or eight that are "standards" at our house. I have also created a few combinations of my own, using some of my favorite ingredients. But if truth be known, I have never made a straight forward risotto Milanese!
Yesterday, Sandi mentioned the two schools of thought about "to stir or not to stir". I have heard many a debate on this topic, and have tried it both ways. (I even make a lovely baked risotto with no stirring at all! ) But again, who am I to question Marcella?
I looked at my box of saffron threads. Hmmmm, I wondered how long it has been in my pantry, as it is not an ingredient I use often. It seemed to dissolve well in the hot water and looked like a good color, so I proceeded.
Marcella's process was clear and straight forward. It is perfect, especially for anyone who is afraid to try risotto. If you follow her steps, the risotto turns out perfectly, the right texture, and no mushy stuff or pan that is tough to clean. It was perfect. It is also the first time I have made risotto with home made broth, and it was worth the trouble. I will be keeping a permanent spot in my freezer for THAT!
We enjoyed our risotto with my favorite chicken thighs with caramelized onion and fennel.
This was my first try at making risotto with porcinis. I don’t know why I haven’t tried it before, because we sell the dried porcinis at our store. I think I was afraid that the taste would be too heavy, but I was pleasantly surprised. This recipe was a wonderful mix of savory flavors that never over powered each other.
I prefer to use Carnaroli rice, which I find to be more forgiving than Arborio. When you are as busy as I am that is a nice trait for a rice to have. I can’t tell you how many times I have been pulled away while I am supposed to be stirring the risotto. I have never had a disaster using the Carnaroli rice, but with the Arborio I have.
This recipe has just a few ingredients. Butter, rice, onions, beef broth, parmigiano-reggiano, and the porcini mushrooms make up the list. Marcella’s directions are exquisite, from the details on rehydrating the mushrooms to the amounts of liquid to add and the timing on adding them.
This recipe is going into my keeper file because there is something very comforting about it. One thing that I am always looking for is recipe that makes me feel all warm and cozy inside. You would think that would be a bad thing for a 100 degree day, but it worked well for us today.
Risotto is another dish I hoped to first try in Italy. Over the years I’ve watched Lidia, Mario, and Giada make risotto on television with great ease. All the same I wanted to make sure my first taste would be authentic. So, I have opted not to prepare it before now. This week I approached the recipe with great hope for a positive result.
I made the risotto with imported Carnaroli rice. This dish is also made with a wonderful homemade meat broth. The broth has a light golden color and a taste I cannot accurately describe with words. I was delighted with every ladle I added to the rice. The aroma was so wonderful I daydreamed of a heat-proof bodysuit and magic powers to shrink myself to three inches tall so I could backstroke in the pan.
While everything smelled wonderful, I felt like I might be doing something wrong. Surely, this does not take this long to cook I wondered often. I stirred and stirred waiting impatiently for the rice to soften. I was so glad Marcella gave such detailed instructions. I leaned on them through my doubt.
The risotto is studded with pieces of asparagus. The finishing touch is mixing in butter and parmigiano-reggiano cheese. It is creamy and tender but not mushy with each grain having a firm center. It tasted great also. I was so pleased with the result I topped it with a "V" for victory.
Risotto with Asparagus
©2010 Irene D. Ericson
We've left pasta behind and are visiting risotto. But before I get into the report on my first risotto dish, I have to take a moment to stand and applaud Marcella.
God bless you, Marcella. You have vindicated me for constantly stirring my risotto! You could not have any idea how much this means to me, unless you had been following a particular thread on SlowTalk in which the very same Milanese know-it-all who demonized me for freezing my olive oil, also berated me for stirring risotto. I do believe that more than one of my Pomodori partners are standing with me for this ovation.
Now back to the dish at hand. I have never considered featuring celery in a risotto dish, any more than I would in a pasta. It has always seemed to be an indispensable member of the chorus, but never the lead tenor. Celery's role is to enhance the flavor of the star ingredient, not be the star. Right?
Yet, here I am making my first dish in the Risotto chapter of Essentials, and I find that it is just celery. Boring, unimaginative celery. Livened up with only a bit of chopped onion and fresh parsley. No spices, no pancetta, not even a little boiled ham to give it some flavor.
And that is the genius of this dish.
It is also why Marcella got paid to write her cookbooks, and I just get paid to sell them.
It appears that when allowed to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight, celery is quite capable of carrying the show. Creamy and full of its own flavor, Celery Risotto is going to be one of my new favorites.
The celery flavor was enhanced by the nice bottle of Muscadet de Sevret-Maine we enjoyed. (Sorry, Victor)
You've no doubt been reading the previous blog entries of all of the wonderful risottos my fellow comrades in Pomodori E Vino have been creating. They've all looked so delicious. It is now my turn for a risotto, and another keeper it is. My version was Risotto with Spring Vegetables, Tomato, and Basil. In this version you saute chopped onion, carrot, celery, and zucchini. You take half of the softened vegetables out of the pan, and then add your rice and begin the stirring process. I used home-made meat broth that I had made previously and frozen. After 25 minutes of adding simmering broth, 1/2 cup at a time, and stirring non-stop, you add back in the other half of the cooked vegetables, diced tomato, and thawed frozen peas. When the rice is tender, you remove from the heat and stir in more butter and grated Parmesan cheese. When all is combined, you then mix in shredded basil.
I really enjoy risotto, and this recipe was another wonderful one. I loved the addition of the fresh tomato and basil. It really made this recipe more fresh and lighter-tasting. Wonderful for spring or summer.
Here's a close-up of the risotto. Can you tell how creamy it was?
Thinking of the clam risotto, I am so happy because I know I can get beautiful, fresh, local clams, easily. They are actually farmed in the bay by a friend of ours and don’t need very much scrubbing at all. Watching them open in the pan, one by one, is such a treat.
It was quick work to remove then from the shells, chop and reserve.
Onion, garlic and parsley go into the rice as a flavor base.
The liquid is water and the juice from cooking the clams.
I used the delicious olive oil, from Lake Garda, which I brought home from Italy, to finish the risotto. It wasn’t as runny as I had hoped but the flavor was perfetto!
This chapter on risotto has been an exceptional experience for me. Both of the risottos that I have drawn in the recipe lotto would not have been first choices for me, but to my surprise once I made them they both have really appealed to me, so much so, that I am sure that I will be making them again and again.
This recipe started with some garlic and pancetta sautéing in some butter. Rosemary and sage were added and stirred in. Once the garlic was golden brown, ground chuck was added and browned. Then the secret ingredient is added…the Barolo wine. I am not used to cooking with a 40 dollar bottle, and I did have some trepidation about this, but once I added it and the smell filled the air, I really understood Marcella’s insistence that it had to be Barolo wine for this risotto. Once the wine had cooked down, the Carnoroli rice was added. Then the risotto was cooked as usual with beef broth until it was almost finished. At the end a small amount of wine was added and cooked in. The risotto was taken off of the heat and butter and parmigiano-reggiano was added.
Michael’s took a bite of this and groaned in appreciation. He then said, “that is what I am talking about!” It was a complex flavor, with rosemary as the predominate top note. As we savored each bite, the other ingredients could be discerned one by one, but the totality of the experience was amazing. It was made better, by finishing off the bottle of wine while we ate. A very nice Saturday night dinner!
I was more confident making the risotto this week. During the pasta section, I made a double batch of Bolognese Sauce. I froze the remainder for use in today’s recipe. After the sauce was defrosted, I heated it gently in a saucepan. Once warm it looked like I had just made it. Lovely. This time around I used Arborio rice. I added it to the sauce, stirred well to coat the grains and began the risotto making process.
Funny how quickly time passes when you are relaxed. It was ready to eat in what seemed like no time. If you love Bolognese Meat Sauce this is another great way to try it. I can imagine eating this for dinner on a chilly, fall evening.
I have a confession to make. This dish is my favorite breakfast. I normally only make a half batch of risotto since it is just the two of us. But when I make sausage risotto, I make a full batch, so I can have it leftover for breakfast...cold...straight from the refrigerator.
My dad told me that as a child his favorite breakfast treat was a cold slice of congealed grits. His mother would drizzle a little black-strap molasses on it for him. When I was a kid I looked forward to Thanksgiving Dinner, just so I could have left-over turkey dressing for breakfast the next day. But now it's Sausage Risotto all the way.
Marcella's recipe is all the more enticing, because she has converted me from the typical Sicilian-American version of Italian Sausage to the spice free version she prefers - which lends itself even more to breakfast!
She starts with browning onions and sliced sweet pork sausages in oil and butter. Then white wine is added to simmer. After the wine has bubbled away, the risotto is added and stirred to thoroughly coat.
Then the simmering broth is added in measured amounts, stirring constantly as it is absorbed. When all the broth is gone, a bit of fresh ground black pepper, more butter, grated parmigiano-reggiano and, if necessary more salt are tossed in.
We enjoyed our hearty risotto dinner with a nice every-day primitive from Puglia. And just in case you’re curious, for breakfast, it pairs well with V-8 juice.
Today is the last recipe in the Risotto chapter of Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. This recipe is a rice recipe, not a risotto. But what a great way to end the chapter. If you like gooey cheese and rice, you'll love this dish. What comfort food. For this recipe, you boil rice in water. When al dente, you place it in a warm bowl and add shredded mozzarella cheese and stir. The heat from the rice makes a gooey stringy concoction. You then add grated Parmesan cheese, stir, then add butter and shredded basil leaves, and stir again.
Here's a picture of the serving bowl. Makes you want to curl up in your pj's in front of the fireplace with a bowl of this in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, doesn't it?