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jaybee

Risotto

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Good posts, especially by Nick, Craig, and Jim.

I simply could not make risotto without doing it "by hand". I am of the faith that it is the constant stirring with a wooden spoon that emulsifies the starch together with the broth and butter and/or olive oil. This faith is unwavering, unreasoning, and easily becomes wild-eyed.


"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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I myself have a wooden rissoto spoon that is only used for that purpose.

Whassit?

Is it marketed as a "rissoto spoon," or is it just one of those things?


Noise is music. All else is food.

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I myself have a wooden rissoto spoon that is only used for that purpose.

Whassit?

Is it marketed as a "rissoto spoon," or is it just one of those things?

I'm sorry, I wasn't clear. It is a largish wooden paddle. Not specifically a "risotto spoon". My point being that I always use this utensil for making risotto as if some otherworldy risotto magic resides within it. :smile:

Nick

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as if some otherworldy risotto magic resides within it.

You never know, there might be! :smile:

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just found a food and wine recipe i clipped but havent tried for lemon risotto that calls for both meyer and eureka lemons (juice and zest) as well as vermouth, thai chilis and basil...

they use marscapone in addition to parm, which seems overkill to me


Edited by lissome (log)

Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons: That is all there is to distinguish us from the other Animals.

-Beaumarchais

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I've just finished reading Craig's newsletter/treatise on risotto, which is exhaustive and enlightening. If you haven't requested a copy from him yet, as per his earlier offer, you should.


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've just finished reading Craig's newsletter/treatise on risotto, which is exhaustive and enlightening

Which is it, exhausting or enlightening? :smile:

How do we get it?


Edited by awbrig (log)

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Anyway as I just wrote a bunch on risotto and I am probably obsessed. If any eGulleteer would like a gratis copy of my newsletter on risotto just e-mail me at craig@vinocibo.com.

You pay attention is how you get it!


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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Marlene - that recipe was from memory. I got it from a cookbook in Italy although I believe it has been translated into English. Let me check the book and I will let you know.

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I've just finished reading Craig's newsletter/treatise on risotto, which is exhaustive and enlightening

Which is it, exhausting or enlightening? :smile:

How do we get it?

It was exhausting for me - hopefully enlightening for you.

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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).

Kiku - thank you! Why did I not see this before. I have an ambivalent relationship with risotto anyway, but one of the things that has always troubled me is the difficulty in cooking the rice all the way through. Now I get it. For this reason I've never understood all the warnings you get in books about not overcooking risotto - I've never achieved it.

Cavallini goes to the top of my 'books to acquire' list.

v

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A mixture of both produces superb results.  Finishing with a very good olive oil/rich butter/infused oil, the same.  Though one must adjust the fat in the inital cooking process. 

How I make risotto is determined by it's final use/flavorings/garnishes.  Side dish? App?  Accompaniment?  All are factors that impact upon the approach and technique to a proper rissotto.

On the subject of broths; see the preceding paragraph.  In the last month I have used chicken stock, chicken consomme, duck stock, duck consomme, lobster stock etc.., as well as combinations of two or three different broths and brodos. 

I don't tend to use garlic (but you can, tempered usually), though a very fine brunois of aromatics which may or may not include shallots, carrots or any other (again see above) appropriate vegetable sweated in the inital fat can add much to the dish.

Over the years that I've been making it (successfully I've been told), I have found that two critical factors are the temperature of the stock/broth/brodo and the temperature of the pan as you sear and coat the rice at the beginning of the cooking process.  If you sear it at too hot a heat, the ability of the rice to absorb liquid is mitigated, thereby causing a too al dente rissoto.  Too hot a broth will cause this also (I've found).  On the other hand, two low a heat and too cool a broth coupled with excessive stirring results in soft yet raw tasting finished product.

It's one of those techniques that lends itself to a zen-like approach.  It ain't rocket science, but it is rissoto :wink: .  When you nail it (practice helps here), the feeling of "all is right with the world" can't be beat.

Rissoto's perceived difficulty lends itself to mystical qualities being attached to the various accotrements used in its construction.  I myself have a wooden rissoto spoon that is only used for that purpose.  I have only one pot that I use (depth doesn't matter, BTW).  It is one of those techniques that  can't easily translate for the home cook.  It can be such a touchy feely cooking process.  Temperature of the pan, the broth, amount of stirring, amount of liquid etc...I taste frequently throughout the cooking process.

Carryover counts, so accounting for the time between coking and serving also comes into it.

For me risootto can be an altogether self-defining process for the cook/chef.  I enjoy cooking it more for that than for the actual eating of the stuff.

YMMV

Nick

Nick - very interesting about critical factors. How do you deal with risotto in the restaurant situation? i.e. having it ready, not making the customer wait etc..

v

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Nick - very interesting about critical factors.  How do you deal with risotto in the restaurant situation?  i.e. having it ready, not making the customer wait etc..

The only approach that really works in a resto context (within my experience) is the FG/Seeber one. It isn't a secret. Marcella Hazan in her "Classic Italian Cooking" book offers the same technique. BTW, Hazan is a good intro for the novice IMO.

I have worked in one resto where the risotto was cooked to order and the customer was informed of a twenty/twentfive minute wait for their appetizer. Unfortunatly there were few takers. However it is obvious to me by tasting it both ways, that the flavor is superior if the timing can be worked out so that the rissoto is served immediately.

Nick

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While researching different risotto recipes - I have only come across ones using 1 cup and 2.5 cups of rice for between 4 and 8 servings. Can risotto successfully be made in a single serving (say using 1/4 cup of rice) or is one of those techniques that is difficult to do on a small scale.

I ask because I now live alone and would like to practice (with little to no leftovers) before an upcoming dinner party.

johnjohn

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I have worked in one resto where the risotto was cooked to order and the customer was informed of a twenty/twentfive minute wait for their appetizer.  Unfortunatly there were few takers.  However it is obvious  to me by tasting it both ways, that the flavor is superior if the timing can be worked out so that the rissoto is served immediately. 

Nick is right the flavor is clearly superior when prepared to order. It is a problem outside of Italy because Italians would normally have a course before the risotto - so the prep time is not an issue. In the USA there is the additional problem that customers are more rushed.

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While researching different risotto recipes - I have only come across ones using 1 cup and 2.5 cups of rice for between 4 and 8 servings.  Can risotto successfully be made in a single serving (say using 1/4 cup of rice) or is one of those techniques that is difficult to do on a small scale.

I ask because I now live alone and would like to practice (with little to no leftovers) before an upcoming dinner party.

johnjohn

I make it for myself frequently. What can I say I like to indulge myself. Yes you can make risotto in smaller amounts - to a point. One cup of rice will serve 2 as a main course - 4 as a first. I have prepared at little as a 1/2 cup at a time with fair results but 1 cup is better. Don't forget you can use the leftover risotto to make arancine, which I like enough to make extra risotto intentionally.


Edited by Craig Camp (log)

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There's a 100% sure way to never be eaten by a shark: don't swim in the ocean. Likewise, there's a 100% sure way never to be disappointed by risotto in a restaurant: don't order it.

In our house, the guests have to be sitting at the table, waiting for me to finish the risotto. The moment it's done, the cheese and butter are added, it's plated and consumed immediately. A similar immediacy applies to many pasta dishes. Has anyone mentioned that the traditional plating for risotto is to spread it evenly over the plate, rather than piled in a mound?


Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

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Nick-

What kind of pot do you use?

My favorite spring risotto includes meyer lemon, fresh pea and tarragon.

Your spring risotto sounds lovely.

i use a very heavy sided and bottomed restaurant aluminum pot.

I stir it with a wooden spoon/paddle that I reserve for making risotto. The amounts I make are rarely less than 500g. Usually 1k of rice at a time.

Nick

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Nick, I have a huge Korean steamer that is very wide and thin. This is what I use these days. Aluminum too, I think. Probably the only aluminum thing I use.


"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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Nick, I have a huge Korean steamer that is very wide and thin. This is what I use these days. Aluminum too, I think. Probably the only aluminum thing I use.

Yes aluminum - I have an old (20+) Calphalon 6 qt. saute that I use. I know all the complaints about Calphalon (and agree) but this pan has hung in there and I think I have developed a personal relationship with it. It listens to me.

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It's preference. I like the substantive feel that my pot has. The bottom stays flat over the years also. You know how these things are abused. Harried cooks tossing hot pans into the sink. This one is thick enough to withstand that abuse without warping.

edit: Craig-- I perfectly understand how one gets attached to these things. Objectively there may be better pots or pans, but as you imply, some are like an old comfy pair of ripped jeans.

Nice to read you again Jin.

Nick


Edited by ngatti (log)

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  I perfectly understand how one gets attached to these things.  Objectively there may be better pots or pans, but as you imply, some are like an old comfy pair of ripped jeans.

It is true - you get attached - but perhaps this connection, this confidence shows up in the taste of the dish.


Edited by Craig Camp (log)

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Thank you for emailing me your article on risotto. I enjoyed it and learned from it!

One question though - I have heard/read from many cooks that after the stirring and the addition of the butter/cheese the rissotto should "rest" tightly covered for a couple of minutes. What are your thoughts on this? :unsure:


Life is short, eat dessert first

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Thank you for emailing me your article on risotto.  I enjoyed it and learned from it!

One question though - I have heard/read from many cooks that after the stirring and the addition of the butter/cheese the rissotto should "rest" tightly covered for a couple of minutes.  What are your thoughts on this? :unsure:

I prefer to get the risotto on the plate and in front of my guests as quickly as possible. I just blend in the butter and cheese and serve. In my opinion you are in danger of overcooking the rice by using this technique.

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