Monday, November 27, 2006

Risotto - take two

I've never been really successful with previous attempts at revitalising leftover risotto before, but I was determined to give it another go. The most common recipe for using up yesterday's risotto is to make arancini - deep dried balls of risotto, sometimes containing some meat ragù or a cube of cheese. But I have a deep-seated deep-frying anxiety! And before you think that this is on health grounds and that this j has been swapped with an alternate j from a parallel blog who worries about such issues, I’ll explain. For me, it's more about the practicalities of all that hot, hot oil. I could never consider deep-frying anything in my tiny, windowless (but well-loved!) kitchen - everything is just a bit too flammable! I think I saw the public information film about the danger of chip pans too many times and I am also slightly related to a fireman to risk all that hot fat. In addition, I've always worried about what you do with the oil once you've finished all that deep-frying. I guess if you know someone who could recycle it into bio fuel and drive his or her car with it, that would be rather a green solution! Or I seem to recall that you can make some tasty treat for the bird table with fat, a coconut shell and some nuts. But I don't have a bird table or for that matter - a coconut shell. So I need to find some alternate ways of cooking the remaining risotto and turn it into something fabulous.

Giorgio Locatelli suggests baking the remaining risotto in a torta (cake or pie) in the oven until brown on top. Alternatively, he suggests frying the risotto in a little olive oil, patting it down into a round cake shape. This is cooked for 4-5 minutes until golden brown and then is turned over and sautéed until golden brown on the other side.

The lovely Italian Cenzina who is hosting the risotto themed 'hey, hey it's Donna Hay day' on her gorgeous site il cavoletto di Bruxelles (if only I could read Italian!) suggests a very similar treatment...

- Risotto is at it’s best al momento, if you have leftovers, try this Italian style recycling: instead of microwaving, just put your risotto in a non stick pan with a spoon of melted butter, spreading it to make a 1cm thick fritter, let cook until golden on both sides, and you’ll have riso al salto. Great with a green salad on the side.

I decided to go with Cenzina’s version and in honour of her website (which I think translates as 'Brussels sprout', I accompanied my risotto cake with some of the aforementioned baby cabbage. It worked okay but it’s very difficult to keep the cake in a cake shape and not just end up with a messy heap of risotto grains. I think next time I would mix the cooked risotto with an egg, not only would this keep the mixture together better but taste good also!

It was very tasty - not at good at risotto the first time round but a close second! If I have an excess of risotto next time, I would try this again or maybe I’d have a go at Giorgio’s grandmother’s method in the oven. I also found some suggestions for stuffing birds or vegetables with leftover risotto and even a suggestion to use it to thicken a soup. Hmmm, it’s almost worth making extra on purpose every time.
I have no fear of leftover risotto now - I embrace it!

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