Wednesday 13 June 2012

Risotto! It's Italiano!

Risotto isn't as difficult to make, as some people would have you believe. Once you achieve the basic techniques, you’ll find it’s easy to make. I love that it's an all season food, I have Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring versions, and I’m always inventing new recipes! You can too!! I've said it before, think of what YOU like, then put it into the risotto, you will have a version you like and can claim as your own! Often, I just take a look at what's in the refrigerator and put something together! 

The first thing to know about making risotto, is that you need a handful of essential ingredients before you can customize. You’ll want to use arborio rice; it usually comes in a cardboard carton, vacuum sealed, and can be found either with the other rices or in the ethnic/organic section of major food markets, depending on where you go. I buy mine at Whole Foods because it comes in bulk, you can buy as much as you want, 2 cups is the standard recipe. Arborio rice is an Italian short-grain rice that is high in starch and absorbs lots of liquid to give you a creamy finished product. When we rented a house in Italy, I learned that risotto is truly a staple — you can throw just about any leftover veggies into it. Families in Italy eat this nearly everyday. Wee Bear and  I are planning to rent again for a month or more, allowing our children, inlaws and grandchildren to visit for as long as they would like. We can hardly wait! A nice way to get to know life in Italy!

One of my Spring versions of  risotto includes leeks, peas, asparagus and lemon. Think about that combo, that screams SPRING! I also make a Fall version with wild mushrooms, it was featured on the blog on May 16. (if you go to the archives you can locate it) It’s heartier and my husband loves it. My Winter version includes mushrooms, Fennel turkey sausage and sun dried tomatoes. Experiment to your heart’s content, you won't be disappointed!

JJ's Spring Risotto!
  • 2 cups arborio
  • 3 leeks, sliced
  • 2 can chicken stock (vegetarians go with vegetable stock)
  • 1 small package of frozen peas
  • 10 stocks of asparagus (approx. you can do more or less)trimmed and cut into 1 1/2" pieces
  • 1 cup freshly shaved parmesan reggiano and pecorino (or just use one of these)
  • water
  • lemon
  • white wine for me and for deglazing
  • Olive oil & butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Set a sauce pan on medium-high and pour in the stock. Once it reaches boiling, reduce heat and keep the stock at a low simmer, so it doesn’t burn off  but stays warm. Or, heat up the stock in the microwave.
Prepare your leeks and add them to a large stock pot with equal parts olive oil and butter; stir until melted, well coated and translucent. Salt to help leeks release their flavors.

Slice off the top of the leek at the point where it starts to become tender. Then cut the tender part down the center. Clean the dirt between the layers, then slice crosswise.

 Pour a healthy splash of white wine into the pan and stir to reduce. Next, add about a cup of water and the arborio, stir until absorbed.

Add the asparagus and peas and stir to combine. Then, start adding the simmering stock, one cupful at a time, stirring constantly to prevent sticking.
Once the stock is gone, taste test; if the rice is too al dente, add water gradually until it achieves the right texture — firm but not stiff, and before it gets soggy.
Squeeze one lemon into the pan and stir.
Add the grated parmesan and/or pecorino into the pan, stirring constantly. Taste; add salt and pepper if needed.

Optional this tip: I learned while studying under Eva Kenly: Stir in a spoonful of mascarpone or cream cheese. mmmmm decadent!

Optional healthier tip: Drizzle a bit of quality olive oil in a more authentic touch, as would be some freshly torn basil.

Serve with white wine and enjoy leftovers the next day! Perfetto!!(Wee Bear told me it's perfecto, I forgot the c, but, in Italian, it's perfetto!)

Mer Soleil ~ 90 points

Available at Wine on the way. Just click the icon on the right to go to the web site. Free shipping on any 12 bottles!!

  • Chardonnay
  • Silver
  • Santa Lucia Highlands
  • California
  • White Wine
  • 750 ml
Mer Soleil’s Chardonnay grapes dependably get so ripe, they offer explosive flavors even without oak. You won’t miss a thing without that barrel. The pineapple, orange and golden mango flavors are delicious on their own, and even offer a hint of vanilla. A mouthwatering fresh squeeze of acidity makes everything bright and clean.

                        Happy Hump Day!  Cheers! JJ

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