Risotto Invernale with Radicchio

According to market research, many people prefer¬†recipes that take 27 minutes or less to make.¬Ļ I think my patience level runs very close to this figure. A comforting risotto just fits¬†it into this time frame, so long as you prep most of the ingredients as you go, which to me makes sense; it gives you something else to do while you are stuck beside that pan for 20 minutes or more, stirring, watching, and knocking back the wine you opened to make it.

Garden pickings. Radicchio, cavolo nero, winter’s Tuscan Kale and parsley. Add rice and parmesan to make a fortifying meal.

Risotto is my favourite winter food, especially when the garden provides winter loving treasure such as Cavolo Nero, the dark green Tuscan king of kale, and ruby coloured radicchio, a bitter leafed vegetable that adds colour and crunch to winter meals. As the morning temperatures drop below zero and the ground turns crunchy with white frost, these two plants come into their own. They love a cold snap.

Gazzono brand, Vialone Nano from the Mediterranean Wholesalers, Brunswick.

The other ingredients are fridge and pantry staples. Butter, olive oil, onion, good Italian rice and Parmigiano Grano Padano. Which rice is best for this task? I generally find that the cheaper brands of arborio produce a less appetising result. Although I do enjoy frugality, some cheaper ingredients make for false economy. One kilo of good quality Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice goes a long way.

Chopped radicchio.

Risotto Invernale con Radicchio. Winter Radicchio Risotto. A step by step recipe. Ingredients for two large serves.

  • 1 cup good quality risotto rice (¬†Carnaroli¬†or Vialone Nano)
  • 1 tablespoon EV olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 small red onion, very finely chopped
  • 1/2 small carrot, very finely chopped( optional)
  • vegetable stock, homemade or made with a stock cube, around 3 cups or more
  • dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio
  • a small head of radicchio, finely sliced
  • black pepper
  • grated parmesan cheese, Reggiano or Grano Padano
  • more butter, a good knob

Chop half an onion into tiny dice and add it to a wide pan with a generous slurp of olive oil and butter. Although a diced carrot isn’t generally added to the base of a risotto, a little carrot adds some sweet notes, since radicchio can be quite bitter. As the onion gently cooks, bring a pot of vegetable stock to the boil and let it simmer next to your risotto pan. ¬†I like to have more stock than most recipes suggest, just in case it’s needed. This can be either home-made or made from a stock cube. Open the white wine. Measure the rice. Cut a small head of radicchio into fine strips. Find a small butt of Parmesan cheese and ask someone to finely grate it.

The beginning of a risotto.

Add the rice. One cup of rice makes a generous meal for two people. Adjust the recipe for more people. Stir the rice to coat the grains- the rice will turn opaque Рthen add a big slurp of white wine, ( at least a quarter of a cup, though I  never measure it)  and stir well. At this point, you are allowed to begin drinking, to fortify you for the task ahead.

Step two, add the wine.

Once the wine has evaporated, begin adding the hot stock, one ladle full at a time. There’s no need to stir too vigorously or continually. The heat should be on medium to high, though I generally adjust this up and down as I go. When the stock evaporates, add another ladle, and continue this activity for around 20¬†minutes or so.

Risotto absorbing the stock.

Add the radicchio and the last ladle of stock and stir vigorously for around 5 minutes. The leaves will soften and the dish will become more creamy. Add a grinding of pepper.

Add the radicchio and last ladle of stock

The final and most important step. Add a good amount of parmesan and butter, la mantecatura, then cover and turn off the heat. Let it sit for 2 minutes.

Take off the lid and stir through the butter and cheese vigorously. The dish will become creamy and smooth. Shake the pan backwards and forwards to observe a wave movement ( all’onda) ¬†in the mixture. If you think that the risotto is a little dry, add a small amount of hot stock and stir through well. You are aiming for a soft, creamy and well united dish that has a little wetness.

Serve with more parmesan.

One of the best things I’ve read about cooking in the last few weeks. ¬Ļ¬†https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jun/18/great-recipe-explosion-social-media-does-more-mean-better-instagram-pinterest

The Not So Humble Broad Bean Risotto

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABroad beans ( Fave) are often associated with poverty and simple, peasant eating. They grow prolifically and produce a bounty of fresh beans, with plenty to stash in the freezer or dry. The Italians who migrated to Australia in the 1950s and 60s, with “Courage in their Cases,” also had a few dried fave beans sown into the lining, a memento of home and a good luck seed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA When married with quality risotto rice such as Vialone Nano or Carnaroli rice, as well as a small slab of hot smoked salmon or trout, the humble broad bean enters the realms of rich man’s food, la cucina borghese. You decide: keep it cheap and leave out the hot smoked fish and use a cheaper everyday arborio rice, or lash out!

Ingredients ( two as a main, 4 as a small entrée)

  • 1 cup shelled broad beans/fave
  • 1 ¬†small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup vialone nano rice ( or other arborio)
  • 30 gr butter
  • 1 Tbles EV olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • salt/pepper
  • 3 cups vegetable stock, simmering on the stove
  • 75 gr hot smoked salmon or trout, torn in small pieces
  • fresh herbs, such as marjoram, oregano or dill
  • Grana Padano or Reggiano Parmigiano, grated, a generous amount.

    Rich man, poor man ingredients
    Rich man, poor man ingredients

Method

  1. Firstly, boil the shelled broad beans for 3 minutes, drain, then peel by simply squeezing the outer shell, and sliding out the tender, bright green inner bean. Even better, get some little person to help.
  2.  Heat 20 gr of butter and the olive oil in a heavy base pot, add the chopped onion and cook on low until the onion has softened and is golden in colour. Add the rice and stir about until the rice becomes covered and opaque. Turn up the heat to medium.  Add the wine, and stir until it bubbles away. Then add a ladle full of stock, stirring as you go, until the liquid has been absorbed. Continue in this way until all the stock has been used, around 20 minutes or so.  In the last few minutes of this process, just as you add your last stock, add the beans and stir through.

    First stage of cooking risotto.
    First stage of cooking risotto.
  3. Gently stir through the salmon and the¬†chopped¬†herbs, then fare il mantecare. This is an essential step to add creaminess and finish to the risotto. Add the remaining knob of butter and a generous amount ¬†of grated parmesan ( 1/2 cup) ¬†to the rice, stir through to ‘cream’ the rice, then cover the pot, off the heat, and leave for a couple of minutes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAServe on a large round or oval platter, with more parmesan, and serve from the outside, in a circular fashion, which maintains the heat in the centre.

Find other seasonal broadbean recipes from my previous posts using these links: Tagliatelle with Broadbeans and Smoked Salmon  and  Rice, Farro and Barley Pilaf with Broadbeans.   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA