Risotto, March Daring Cooks
This will be a tale of two risottos. First was a traditional mushroom risotto dressed with a Bolognese sauce made from Moose, pork, and veal. Second was a Risotto radicchio e salsiccia ( Risotto with radicchio and sausage). In the second one I used sausage made from mountain goat. Let’s get the blog checking lines out of the way.
The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.
Great risotto starts with stock. I like to use chicken stock made from leftover roasted chicken carcass along with extra necks and backs. So roast a chicken. Ever since reading Bouchon, I have only roasted chickens using Thomas Keller’s simple high temp method. You take an organic bird and wash it thoroughly. Then dry completely inside and out using lots of paper towels. Season inside and out with lots of kosher salt and pepper. Cook at 450F for about an hour. When you are just a few degrees below 160 at the thigh, melt some butter and toss in some fresh thyme to the bottom of your roasting pan. Use this combined with the roasting juices to baste the bird until fully cooked.
This was dinner and lunch for a day or two. Strip the carcass and pick all the meat off. Save all the bones and the neck from inside. I added to that some more necks and backs. This was all roasted again with mirepoix until browned lightly. Then cover in cold water with some herbs, bay leaves, and pepper corns tossed in for good measure. I let simmer for 5-6 hours at barely a bubble. It should reduce by about half. That is then strained carefully through several layers of cheesecloth. I like to defat by refrigerating overnight and then taking off the fat solids.
Now for the rice. There are many types that are ok but most traditional is Arborio.
Start some olive oil to heat in a pan and add in rough chopped cremini mushrooms. Don’t move them around. You are going for caramelization. When the mushrooms have been basically seared I then toss in a medium finely diced sweet onion. Stir around until the onions become translucent. Now is time to toast your rice. You are basically warming the rice while completely coating the outside with oil so as to ensure even absorbtion of your stock. Notice how the outside of the individual grain become translucent?
I have learned a few tricks while polishing up for this month’s challenge. One very important one is that not only should your stock be hot before adding to the rice, but so should your wine. So make sure your stock and wine have been preheated. I also salt my stock at this point. For 1 1/2 cups of rice I added about 1 cup of white wine. Now the stirring begins. I am of the school of thought that for proper creaminess, risotto must be kept moving. So stir. When almost all the liquid is gone, add in a large ladel full of stock. Stir, repeat. The rice should take about a 3 to 1 ratio of stock to liquid but many factors can change that. Just keep stirring and adding stock until you get an al dente grain and almost all the liquid is absorbed.
I finished with just a little bit of butter but left the grated parmesan for later. To make this into Risotto alla Bolognese, I served with a large spoonful of the moose bolognese in the center and then topped with some grated and shaved parmigiano reggiano.
Now for risotto number two. You might notice lots of game being used in my cooking lately. I am trying to clean out the freezer as fishing season quickly approaches. Around Christmas my friend had given me a few of the more exotic items he could find in his cache of game meat. An Italian sausage made from mountain goat seemed a perfect fit for this month’s challenge. I browned it quickly trying to get a bit of color on the meat. This takes very high heat to get rid of the moisture and to kick start the maillard reaction. Notice how lean the meat is?
Now for the radicchio. I really love this purple bitter cabbage with just a bit of color on it. So I cut out the stem, quarter, and then season with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
I put these under a broiler for a few minutes, then flipped, allowed to cook a few more, and then pulled out. Hard not to just eat like this. If you do it on the grill you can then melt gorgonzola crumbles over the top for an outstanding veggie side.
The risotto is made as you would a normal risotto. I did use the same pan that the sausage had been cooked in to add that extra flavor. At about 2/3 of the way through cooking the rice I added back in the browned meat and roughly chopped radicchio.
I put some rib steaks seasoned simply with kosher salt and pepper under the broiler.
Now this is how I usually enjoy risotto. With bloody rare dead cow and a glass or two of red wine.
You would think that we are done but not quite. With the first batch, I wanted to make a special Italian treat. Arancini alla Ragu is something I have wanted to cook for some time but never took the opportunity until now. With some cold leftover risotto, put in some cold bolognese and a piece of fresh mozzarella if you like. I did some with and some without.
With wet hands, shape this into a ball or egg shape. I put these back in the fridge on a sheetpan while making the coating. Buzz up some bread in a coffee grinder or food processor into a fine crumb. To those crumbs add in finely grated parmigiano reggiano, salt, and pepper. You then do a basic flour, egg, breadcrumb coating process before gently lowering the arancini into 365F oil. Fry until golden brown.
Season with salt while still hot from the fryer. Here is what they look like on the inside.
I can not tell you how delicious these things are. I will enjoy risotto in the future but will now take the extra effort to make these outstanding little fried treats.
Be sure to check out the other Daring Cook’s Blogs by googling the following
“The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.”