Our friend Carlo teaches us an interesting risotto recipe: many thanks Carlo to be again in our kitchen!
I read with curiosity the article on the most expensive dishes in the world and could not help thinking of a recipe in my personal food menu which may aspire to enter that ranking.
Not seriously though as the recipe that I am going to share has a halo of luxury because of some ingredients but it is actually fairly affordable in my version, maybe not for everyday supper, but perfectly suitable for a special occasion or just for those days when you feel the need to give yourself a little rewarding.
Stop the preamble and let me introduce the dish: I named it Risotto Nobile Piemontese and it is a personal preparation, a derivative of classic Italian rice food.
A FEW NOTES ON THE NAME RISOTTO NOBILE PIEMONTESE
Piemontese means from Piemonte (Piedmont), the Italian region positioned at north-west of the country, bordering France. It was home to the Italian royal family Savoy who ruled over the homonymous region in South France and unified Italy in the XIX century. Maybe for that reason, Piedmont often inspires a sense of nobility and elegance through the land, the cities and the food itself. Piedmont is renowned for the extraordinary quality of rice, great wines and obviously truffles; the best and most expensive kind: the white truffle from Alba, a nice city in the zone of Piedmont called Langhe. Just everything I need for my Risotto Nobile Piemontese.
INGREDIENTS FOR 4 PERSONS
- 300 grams of rice Carnaroli;
- One white onion;
- Genuine unsalted butter;
- 1 liter of beef stock, or vegetable;
- 50 grams of grated Parmesan cheese;
- A glass of Champagne brut (dry);
- White truffle puree;
- A small white truffle (optional);
- Salt and white pepper.
PREPARATION OF THE RISOTTO NOBILE PIEMONTESE
Put a rather tall pot on the stove with the butter and have it melted. Peal and chop finely the onion and make it stew with the butter.
When the onion starts gently browning, add all the rice. I use the Carnaroli kind, from Vercelli, another city in Piedmont renowned for rice plants. Carnaroli is considered the top choice for Risotto because of the high quantity of starch, however you can use equivalent species.
At this point raise the heat and roast the rice for 2-3 minutes, stirring with a long wooden spoon; this simple operation will guarantee the perfect cooking of the rice.
It is now time to wet the rice with the Champagne. Pour the glass in, turn down the heat and let the rice absorb the wine for a couple of minutes. I use the Champagne brut in this recipe instead of other white dry wines because it gives the rice a unique flavor and a soft pleasant degree of acidity.
On the stove, you will have another pot with the stock, maintained at a temperature close to boiling. You will have to add the whole stock to your risotto by pouring it gradually with a ladle until the rice has absorbed it completely.
Your risotto must boil gently for 15 minutes. During this period you will keep stirring with the spoon, adding stock with the ladle as described above and check regularly your rice until it reaches the proper thickness and it is slightly underdone.
During this process, after a couple of ladles of stock, you will add a pinch of white pepper and salt. This is also the time to add a full teaspoon of truffle cream or purée. At this point, many purists will turn their nose up as the traditional recipe of Risotto al Tartufo does not use this component. Instead the truffle aroma is given, at the very end, by slicing a truffle on the served risotto. However the purée is much cheaper and makes your dish undoubtedly very tasty. You can find excellent products on the Internet or in deli shops. A typical small tube of truffle purée is priced at 60-80 Euros and can be used 4-5 times, while a white truffle tuber specimen can be priced at 5 Euros per gram. Optionally you can still finish your dish with the the truffle slices. It would be the perfect final touch but will not add much more flavor to your preparation.
When the risotto is ready, turn off completely the heat, add the grated Parmesan and a little fresh cold butter and stir vigorously with the wooden spoon. This procedure is called mantecatura and it is fundamental for the rice to release its starch and get the desired texture. If the rice is the right quality and you have followed the instructions, at this point your risotto will be shining, creamy yet with rice grains enough separate.
After a few minutes, pour the Risotto on a serving dish and take to the table. As mentioned above, you may want to slice a truffle on the risotto. In this case, the truffle is typically sliced on each individual plate just before start eating.
You may think that the ideal wine to accompany this recipe is the Champagne itself used for the preparation. In fact I prefer a good bottle of red from Piedmont, may be a Barbera, a Barbaresco or even the renowned Barolo.
The Risotto Nobile Piemontese can be a fantastic entree or, in a more generous portion, a single main dish, the perfect company to a great bottle of wine. What an enjoyable combination!