Sunday, November 26, 2006

Oh risotto!

Today I have mostly thinking about risotto. Well, actually this whole past week has been pretty flavoured with risotto. When choosing a place to dine with T, I thought of the new risotto restaurant Ooze. But after reading Jay Rayner's rather damning review in the Observer last week, I wasn't sure I wanted to risk it. T has been a huge fan of risottos as long as I can remember and really introduced me to my love of them many years ago. The first time I cooked the fabulous Anna Del Conte's lemon risotto (though I actually made Nigella's rather generous version) was for T in her new kitchen. And true to form she had a risotto when we dined at Bank on Thursday, though she swore it was the first one she'd eaten for ages.

Then I read over at the il cavoletto di Bruxelles blog that risotto was the featured dish in the latest 'Hey, hey it's Donna Hay day!' and thought it might be fun to add one of my favourite recipes into the mix.

And finally, I found some time to read the wonderful risotto chapter in Giorgio Locatelli's fantastic book 'Made in Italy'. Giorgio's writing is inspirational but ironically the recipe I've decided to do is 'risotto ai cavolfiore' – the cauliflower risotto from Jamie Oliver's 'Jamie's Italy' as I have a spare cauliflower on hand. But I'm going with the maestro Giorgio Locatelli's five point risotto method as it all sounds so much more lyrical in Italian.

Firstly it's the soffritto - the very finely chopped onion is sautéed in butter. Though today I'm using a little leek mixed in with the onions as I have an abundance. And as this is a cauliflower risotto, the finely chopped cauliflower stalk is also added the lovely translucent mixture. Meanwhile the cauliflower florets are added to the pan of hot stock to cook.

Secondly you have the tostatura, the 'toasting' of the rice in this mixture so every grain is coated and warmed up and will cook uniformly. The glass of wine is added at this stage.

Thirdly the stock is added a ladleful at a time. When the rice is half cooked the now soft cauliflower is combined to the rice mixture and each floret is gently squashed into the rice as it's added.

The penultimate and important stage is to take the risotto off the heat for a minute, without any stirring to allow the mixture to cool slightly before the last flourish.

The final stage is the mantecatura, the beating in of the butter and cheese to finish off the risotto. You can really see the risotto come alive as you beat in the butter, the glossiness is very alluring.

The risotto should have a gorgeous mixture of creaminess and bite and if you tilt the plate, the risotto ripples in waves which is called "all'onda".

Before serving, the cauliflower risotto is topped by crunchy toasted pangrattato (some stale bread turned into breadcrumbs and fried in a little pan).

This risotto and the fabulous Anna Del Conte's lemon risotto are probably two of my favourites to cook I find them infinitely soothing to create and stir and extremely comforting to eat. Sometimes only a risotto will do!


Barbara said...

J - I love how you have presented this entry. It looks and sounds sensational. Thanks for joining us at HHDD#8 and good luck with the voting.

kathryn said...

What a lovely recipe and really well explained / laid out. I'm also intrigued by the lemon risotto (sounds wonderful) - have you posted that recipe?

J said...

Thank you.
I haven't posted the lemon risotto yet but I promise I will as it's a great comforting favourite

joey said...

What a lovely way to tell the story of risotto...I enjoyed it :) And I'll definitely be keeping it in my for my future risottos...

Anonymous said...

i don't think that risotto is "all'onda" - it looks rather dense.

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