Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sometimes the risotto just needs to be by itself...

The art of making risotto is something that I strive to perfect as I expand my culinary horizons and delve into new tasty territories. Risotto is a traditional Italian rice dish and is so versatile that the possibilities are endless. One of my most favorite kitchen quotes ever comes from one of the most respected chefs (and person) in my life...my incredible dad, Mike Nido! He says that you can't just make risotto, but that you must "love it into existence". He also often quotes from the food lovers movie, The Big Night, that describes a love for risotto so great that claims "sometimes the risotto just needs to be by itself.

The slow cooking process allows for the starches in the arborio rice to be released to ultimately give you the texture and taste that makes risotto so uniquely delicious. It has to be constantly stirred and taken care of like a baby to acquire, at the end, the perfect creamy consistency that tastes of nothing but the love you have put into it!

Risotto can be made as a side dish or like Ashley and I created last night in our Ballantyne kitchen, it can be a meal in itself. We used one of Emeril Lagasse's recipes and tried our second risotto concoction and it was truly a luscious dinner that was so good we could barely speak while eating it! This recipe was extremely easy to follow and took a total of 45 minutes from start to finish. Making the risotto was really like taking care of a baby but I truly savor my time in the kitchen so time is never an issue for me when it comes to good food. The end result is well worth the treat to your tastebuds!

Risotto con Peperone
Recipe from Emeril Lagasse; Emeril Live 2004

6 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 medium red bell peppers, seeded and diced
1 1/2 medium yellow bell peppers, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onions
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions, green tops only
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked white pepper
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 ounces prosciutto, finely chopped


In a small saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the peppers and cook, stirring frequently, until cooked through but still slightly crunchy, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a large heavy saucepan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until opaque, 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring until the rice nearly completely absorbs all the liquid, about 1 minute.

Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the thyme. Add 1 cup of the hot stock, and cook, stirring constantly. Cook the risotto, adding more stock 1/2 cup at a time as it is absorbed, about 20 minutes total cooking time. Stir in the green onions and cooked bell peppers after 15 minutes cooking time. Season the risotto with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper. The rice should be slightly al dente.

Remove from the heat. Discard the thyme sprigs. Add the cheese and prosciutto, and stir well to mix. Adjust the seasoning, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

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