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Risotto


jaybee
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It was suggested that a thread start on this subject. I was reading a book this weekend that has over 100 risotto recipes and I noticed something I'd overlooked in the ten years or so I've been making the stuff. The "official" recipe for risotto a la Milanese calls for the addition of bone marrow to the condimenti! This is because the dish is often served to accompany osso buco, and the marrow from the shanks was added to the condimenti to compliment the taste. Though called "optional" by the authors, I imagine that marrow adds a richness and subtle taste to the rice. Next time...

The author calls for broth to be added in 1/2 cup increments, and suggests running a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pot to see if it is time to add more broth. If the spoon leaves a clear and open trail, it is time to add more broth.

The title of the book is Risotto and it was published in paperback in 1988. Amazon sells it.

Risotto book

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It's a good book, and if you have a moment maybe you or someone else who has it will summarize the section on basic risotto terminology where brodo, condimenti, et al. are explained.

For those who don't give a damn about authenticity, you can have a look at my lengthy, somewhat tongue-in-cheek treatise on risotto-making as practiced at most haute cuisine restaurants.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Indistinguishable is a strong word. If anybody can distinguish it, the statement is false. But it is certainly true -- or, rather, I've heard it from enough reliable sources that I believe it entirely -- that the pressure cooker method is the predominant technique for risotto-making among Italian home cooks. We have friends from Venice who come in every year and a couple of years ago Mrs. Friend cooked us risotto in the pressure cooker. She basically laughed at me when I asked why she didn't use the traditional method, as if to say no modern Italian does it -- and make no mistake the Italians on the whole are obsessed with being modern. As for the results, they were excellent -- as have been several other examples of pressure-cooker risotto I've tried. But indistinguishable? I think that probably goes too far.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I was interestred to note that the author mentions a "short cut" method using a pressure cooker that she says cuts the prep time in half and tastes "almost as good as the traditional method. I wonder if that's the secret at Rissoteria.

I don't have the book here but here's the "basic" method as near as I can recall it:

There are four main ingredients to risotto: The brodo--the broth or stock; the soffrito--usually onion sauteed in oil and butter; the rice--arborio, and the condimenti--the ingredients added after the rice is cooked with the stock.

basic stock is made from a mixture of beef, or veal and chicken.

Fish stock is for seafood risotto.

5 cups stock, 1/2 cup white wine.

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Butter and olive oil

One onion diced.

Heat stock to a simmer.

In a large, heavy bottomed pot, sautee the diced onion in a mixture of olive oil and butter until translucent.

Add rice to the onion and stir to coat rice with the oil and butter.

Cook rice for one minute or so, then add white wine.

(cook over medium heat so as not to evaporate the stock but to let it absorb into the rice)

Stir until the wine is absorbed and begin adding the hot stock, 1/2 cup at a time.

Stir slowly with wooden spoon until stock is absorbed. Scrape spoon over bottom of pan. If you can see bottom, add more stock).

Continue this process until all stock, save 1/2 cup, is absorbed.

Remove from heat and stir in the cheese, the remaining 1/2 cup stock and a pad of butter, stirring all to mix cheese with rice thoroughly.

Spoon into bowls, add chopped fresh parsley and serve.

Serves 4-6

The main variations on this theme are in the condimenti. If you are using fish or seafood, use a fish stock. A vegetable stock or mushroom stock may be used for vegetarian or mushroom risotto. I sometimes add 1/4 cup light cream to the rice just before serving. Saffron may be added to make the famous "a la Milanese."

Note: I buy fresh fish stock from Jakes or Citarella to save time. But I usually put the shells of shrimp or lobster to the boiling stock to add flavor. I make my own mushroom stock.

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I have her book 'Risotto Risotti' (published 1996) and think it is a great book.

In her technique section she explains hw to make classic risotto, pressure-cooker risotto, microwave risottto, restaurant risotto (partially cooked to be finished later), baked risotto, and an almost no stir risotto.

I haven't actually looked at the book in a while, maybe i will try something from it tonite.

My favorite risotto is one from the New Basics with pesto and walnuts.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Has anybody experimented with risotto rice other then arborio (eg. Carnaroli, Roma, Baldo, Padano, and vialone nano)? I have been using carnaroli and seem the prefer to aborio this in terms of "bite". But this could be delusional.

Risotti of the moment:

Smoked chicken breast and red peppers.

"Plain" risotto with petit pois.

Risotto with puy lentils (surprise guests, not enough rice or lentils to make a meal).

Chanterelle.

Jaybee - I have used bone marrow to make risotto a la Milanese, it did lend a certain richness, but also a certain greaziness. I prefer to use butter to give the richness factor now.

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I doubt Risotteria uses the pressure cooker method. You're still talking 20 or so minutes start to finish with a pressure cooker. The only way to get it down to 5 minutes is to have the rice par-cooked in a big batch so that when the orders come in all you're doing is throwing a scoop into a hot pan and finishing the risotto to order.

There are a few ways to tell if these alternate methods work as well as the traditional method, but the only one I really trust is a side-by-side comparison performed by the same hand with the same ingredients.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Though there do seem to be noticeable differences among the various risotto-rice varieties, for me the big issue is freshness. Risotto rice deteriorates very quickly, not like the long grain white rice we use in American cooking, which can be kept around for ages. In particular, I strongly favor rice that is vacuum packed. So given the choice between garden-variety arborio in cryovac packaging and carnaroli loose in a bag, I'll take the arborio every time.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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some of my favorites:

asparagus risotto

wild mushroom risotto (dried porcini, chanterelles, oyster mushrooms). this I serve with chopped fresh herbs, and a miniscule amount of cheese. the point is to taste the mushrooms but not be overwhelmed by the cheese.

pumpkin and chanterelle risotto

the famous "Milanese" (yes with beef marrow)

SA

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Adam, I like carnaroli too!

It's what I use when I make a rissoto that I'm going to eat myself.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Unfortunately I don't the choices of rices that others do. I have found arborio rice once in Japan and it was something like $15 for 500g (1lb). So I use Japanese rice and get decent results, it just isn't as creamy.

Risottos are agreat way to get kids to eat their veggies, mine three love pumpkin risotto and spinach risotto and of course anything with peas.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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What about that rice they use to make sticky rice in Southeast Asia? You could probably get that in Japan, and it might have starchy properties like Arborio. Just a guess.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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What about that rice they use to make sticky rice in Southeast Asia? You could probably get that in Japan, and it might have starchy properties like Arborio. Just a guess.

Japan is very strict on their rice imports, basically there are none imported.

Just this year I have finally seen jasmine rice but only at Costco and Carrefour (a French Costco type store) which some how seem to be above the import ban.

The Japanese have their own sticky rice (mochigome) but I have never found the SE Asian ones. The Japanese type is more gluey, maybe I will give it a try though.

Allowing foreign rice into the country would cause the price of Japanese rice to drop considerably and I doubt it will happen in the near future.

A 10kg (25lb) bag of rice here cost from $40 upwards, I could get the same size of Calrose in Ohio at $11.

I think I will try to pick up some arborio on my trip back to the States this winter.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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What about that rice they use to make sticky rice in Southeast Asia? You could probably get that in Japan, and it might have starchy properties like Arborio. Just a guess.

The rice used for sticky rice in southeast Asia is really a long grain glutinous rice, very narrow. The glutinous rice used in China is shorter and stubbier and might give an approximation. I used to cook something out of Lin's Chinese Gastronomy called "Rich Glutinous Rice" -- you saute scallions in some oil, add soaked dried shrimp, saute, add soaked dried mushrooms and soy sauce and saute, add some sliced pork and a little more soy sauce and saute, and then add the rice and stir until the grains are evenly covered. Then add liquid, bring to boil, cover pan and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes or so. The rice ends up with a similar, but not quite, consistency to risotto.

Carol Fields has a great chapter on rice in Italy in Celebrating Italy. She has a recipe for riso alla pilota (rice in the style of rice winnowers), which is preferably made with Vialone Nano. The method is interesting -- water is brought to a boil, salt added, and then the rice is dropped very slowly through a parchment cone into the center of the pan, with the point sticking up above the water. When the water returns to a boil, the pan is shaken so that the rice spreads over the bottom of the pot, The rice is cooked, uncovered, over very low heat until the water is absorbed, then covered, and left to sit for a while. Then, ground pork tenderloin and pancetta or a soft salami and fresh sausage is sauteed in a lot of butter and some garlic and lots of black pepper. The meats are mixed in with the rice and a lot of grated Parmesan cheese. The texture is different from risotto, but this is completely addictive. (Amounts of fat and cheese can be lowered, but the more fat the better it is.)

Fields also mentions two other Piedmont dishes using arborio -- paniscia, made with borlotti beans, salami and vegetable broth, and panissa using Saluggia beans and meat or bean broth. Essentially, rice and beans.

She also has a great recipe for a one-pot dish of chicken, arborio or carnaroli rice, onions, fresh mushrooms, tomatoes and balsamic vinegar that is a little like arroz con pollo -- the chicken cooks in the same pot as the rice, which slowly becomes risotto.

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What about that rice they use to make sticky rice in Southeast Asia? You could probably get that in Japan, and it might have starchy properties like Arborio. Just a guess.

The rice used for sticky rice in southeast Asia is really a long grain glutinous rice, very narrow. The glutinous rice used in China is shorter and stubbier and might give an approximation.

The Japanese mochigome (sticky rice) is almost round and more white than transparent, sounds similar to the Chinese one. I will pick up a bag this week and give it a try.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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  • 4 months later...

I recall someone (Plotnicki, I'm sure) writing that there is a proper technique for stirring risotto, and if not stirred properly, it is not done properly. I've always just stirred. Are we talking figure 8s? Any thoughts?

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One rule I have incorporated into my practice from Stefano Cavallini's excellent book (I linked it on another thread). He says, when you add the wine or vermouth, don't stir. 'If you stir before it has had a chance to boil, the grains will become cooked on the outside but not on the inside.' So there you go. Stirring starts with the stock (and of course still happens during the tostatura before liquid is added).

edit: he doesn't say 'or vermouth'. That was me.

Edited by Kikujiro (log)
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  • 2 months later...

Does the size of the pot you cook your risotto in make a difference?

I would like to make risotto using 1 cup of rice (for 4 people as a first course)

I have the following pots -

heavy bottomed stainless -

10 inches wide by 6 inches deep

7.5 inches wide by 4 inches deep

10 inches wide by 3 inches deep

Glass -

8 inches wide by 4 inches deep

Which would you use.

johnjohn

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I've followed the instructions in my Barbara Kafka Microwave Gourmet book with excellent results. Hardly any stirring, and since the microwave makes the liquid absorb into the rice very slowly and steadily, you get perfect results every time. Brilliant!

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I am completely, perhaps irrrationally loyal to my risotto pot, a small Scanpan dutch oven very close to the 10x6 dimensions of one of your pans - so I would go with that one. Materials matter too - something that heats slowly and holds heat well is preferable. Lightweight pans don't work all that well.

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