Cooking Rice with an Italian Accent! (7 page)

RECOMMENDED WINES:

VERMENTINO, GAVI DI GAVI

 

Risotto alla Moda Turchese

(TURKISH-STYLE RISOTTO)

SERVES 4

Brindisi is the largest port city on the Adriatic Sea. From there ships sail to Greece and Turkey. This is an interesting and tasty Italian risotto named “Turkish-Style” because Turkish tourists visiting Brindisi seem to love this risotto. Even though their Muslim dietary laws rule out pork, they disobey the law of the Koran and know they will repent and be forgiven.

3 ounces Italian hot sausage

1 large peeled onion

1 large peeled clove garlic

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

10 ounces cultivated white mushrooms

1 small eggplant, unpeeled, washed, and diced small

½ yellow bell pepper, seeded, pith removed, washed, and diced small

1 bay leaf

1 quart boiling hot beef stock

4 Italian plum tomatoes, canned and chopped

Pinch of salt and pepper

1½ cups Arborio rice

1 shot glass good gin (Bombay is best, I think)

2 heaping tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Skin the sausage and mince the meat. Heat one tablespoon of butter and oil in a large saucepan and add the onion and garlic that have been minced together. Sauté for five minutes on gentle heat. Add sausage and cook eight minutes. Add the cultivated mushrooms, which were wiped with paper towel and chopped, the eggplant and yellow pepper previously small diced. Add bay leaf. Stir with wooden spoon and brown for ten minutes on moderate heat. Add a few tablespoons of hot broth occasionally. Discard bay leaf. Add chopped tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir for three minutes. Add rice, stir another three minutes. Add gin and cook on high heat for four minutes. Add hot broth, cup by cup, stirring constantly for eighteen minutes, until rice absorbs all the liquid. Add grated cheese and remaining tablespoon of butter. Stir well. Cover, remove from heat, and let rest for two minutes. Transfer to warmed serving bowl. Garnish with parsley and bring to table. You don't have to be Turkish to enjoy this risotto. You may sprinkle more grated cheese if you wish.

RECOMMENDED WINES:

SALICE SALENTINO RISERVA, AGLIANICO DEL VULTURE (BASILICATA)

 

Risotto al Sapore di Tonno

(TUNA-FLAVORED RISOTTO)

SERVES 4

Do you like tuna? I like tuna, but I can't abide tuna casseroles. This is not a tuna casserole. It's a magnificent and easy way to prepare a risotto. The tuna happily gives up its flesh to flavor this dish. Thank you, Charlie Tuna!

1 garlic clove

1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley, washed well

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 6-ounce can tuna packed in oil, drained and flaked

3½ cups Arborio rice

1 quart boiling hot beef stock

1 tablespoon butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Mince the garlic and parsley leaves together or place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade and pulse for one minute. Heat olive oil in skillet on moderate heat. Add garlic and parsley and sauté gently for five minutes. Add flaked tuna and rice. Stir for five minutes to coat rice evenly with oil. Transfer to a large saucepan and on moderate heat, begin to add boiling stock, cup by cup, stirring constantly until all stock is absorbed (about eighteen minutes). Add butter, salt and pepper to taste, stir, cover and let rest two minutes. Transfer to serving bowl and bring to table. No grated cheese, please.

RECOMMENDED WINES:

BIANCO DI SICILIA (INZOLIA/CATARRATTO BLEND), FIANO DI AVELLINO

 

Risotto Alla Bella Elena

(BEAUTIFUL HELEN'S RISOTTO)

SERVES 4

Helen of Troy was so beautiful that her face launched a thousand ships in the war between ancient Greece and Troy. This risotto named for her won't start a war—well maybe only a little squabble at your table over who is going to get a second serving.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 medium red bell pepper, seeded, cut in half, pith removed, and diced small

1 large peeled white onion, thinly sliced

1 large peeled clove garlic, crushed

2 heaping tablespoons frozen peas, completely thawed

1 rib celery, diced small

½ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1½ cups Arborio rice

½ cup dry white wine

1 quart boiling hot chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste

2 small packages saffron, dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot broth (Badia brand, 0.008 gram per package)

2 tablespoons light cream

4 heaping tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil and butter in a large saucepan on gentle heat. Sauté red bell pepper, onion, garlic, peas, celery, parsley, and basil on moderate heat for eight minutes. Lower heat to simmer. Stir in rice and mix three minutes. Add wine and cook until wine evaporates (about five minutes). Add hot broth, cup by cup, constantly stirring with wooden spoon, until rice absorbs all the liquid (about eighteen minutes). Season with salt and pepper. Stir in saffron dissolved in two tablespoons of hot broth. Stir in cream and grated cheese. Cover and allow to rest for two minutes. Transfer to a deep serving dish and bring to table. Oh, Helen! Oh, Helen!

RECOMMENDED WINES:

RIESLING, PINOT BIANCO

 

Risotto ai Finocchi

(FENNEL RISOTTO)

SERVES 4

I was on my way to spend a few days in Siracusa, on the southern coast of Sicily. I was about halfway there, somewhere between Taormina and Siracusa. It was November and the temperature was about seventy. I kept passing trucks loaded with fresh fennel; the aroma of that sweet herb filled the air, overcoming the fumes of diesel and gasoline and making me impatient for dinner. After arriving in Siracusa and getting settled in the hotel, my first move was to get to the kind of family-run restaurant the Italians call a trattoria and order this risotto. It was delectable then; it's delectable when I make it at home now.

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons pancetta or bacon, finely minced

2 small fresh fennel bulbs, trimmed, boiled for 10 minutes in lightly salted water, dried, and julienned

1½ cups Arborio rice

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup warm beer

1 quart boiling hot chicken stock

3 tablespoons grated Gruyére or Swiss cheese

Pinch of fennel seeds (
1
⁄
8
teaspoon)

2 tablespoons light cream

In a large saucepan, melt one tablespoon of butter in oil on gentle heat. Sauté pancetta for five minutes. Add julienned fennel and sauté for ten minutes. Add rice and stir three minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add beer, adjust heat to high and cook until beer evaporates. Adjust heat to low. Add hot stock, cup by cup, until rice absorbs all the liquid (about eighteen minutes constantly stirring). Remove from heat. Add grated cheese, fennel seeds, cream, and remaining tablespoon of butter. Stir vigorously. Cover and allow to set for two minutes. Transfer to deep serving bowl and bring to table.
Delicato, rinfrescante!
(Delicate and refreshing!) Yes, you may sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

RECOMMENDED WINES:

BIANCO DI SICILIA (INZOLIA/CATARRATTO BLEND), TOCAI

 

Risotto del Goloso

(THE GLUTTON'S RISOTTO)

SERVES 4

A real glutton would eat this whole delectable risotto all by himself. The sin of gluttony is defined as eating until the point of getting sick. Now, remember, I am a priest and I don't want you to commit any sins, but virture isn't virtue unless it is tested. This risotto will be a real test of your virtue of self-control. Okay. End of sermon. Let's eat!

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large peeled onion, thinly sliced

1 large peeled clove garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon pancetta or bacon, minced

4 small carrots, peeled and diced small

Pinch of salt (
1
⁄
8
teaspoon)

1½ cups Arborio rice

½ cup dry white wine or dry vermouth

1 quart boiling hot chicken stock

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil or flat leaf parsley

In a large saucepan, melt butter in oil on gentle heat. Sauté onion, garlic, and pancetta for eight minutes. Add carrots and pinch of salt and cook for ten minutes. Add a few tablespoons of your hot broth if it gets too dry. Add wine. Add rice and stir three minutes. Add hot broth, cup by cup, stirring constantly, until rice absorbs all the liquid (about eighteen minutes). Remove from heat, stir in cream, cheese, and chervil. Stir well. Transfer to serving bowl and bring to table. Remember now, a little self-control! No need for extra grated cheese.

RECOMMENDED WINES:

BARBERA D'ALBA, VALPOLICELLA

 

Risotto del Buongustaio

(GOURMET'S RISOTTO)

SERVES 4

I do not consider myself a gourmet, although a reviewer of my book
Father Orsini's Italian Kitchen
(New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993) said, “Father Orsini reminds me of the gourmet priest who sends the wine back at Mass.” All kidding aside, this is a gourmet's delight.

5 ounces boiled ham (I like Krakus brand Polish ham), julienned

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium white onion, thinly sliced

1¾ cups Arborio rice

1 quart boiling hot beef stock

Pepper to taste

½ cup light cream

1 tablespoon butter to finish

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons grated Gruyère or Swiss cheese

In a large saucepan, sauté the ham in butter and oil for five minutes. Remove the ham with a slotted spoon and set aside. Sauté the onion on gentle heat for eight minutes. Add rice and, stirring, let the grains be coated with the fat for five minutes. Add the boiling hot beef stock cup by cup, stirring constantly, until the rice absorbs all the liquid, about eighteen minutes. Add pepper to taste. Add cream. Stir and cook another three minutes. Remove from heat. Add cooked ham strips. Stir. Add butter and the two cheeses. Stir well. Pour into a serving bowl and bring to table. No extra cheese!

RECOMMENDED WINES:

BARBERA D'ASTI, BAROLO

 

Risotto al Diavolicchio

(DEVILED RISOTTO)

SERVES 4

We travel back to Southern Italy, namely the unforgettable peninsula of Sorrento in the province of Naples, for this deviled (meaning burning, spicy, hot) risotto. If you are enamored of spicy, hot dishes, this one's for you, but save some for me.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 medium peeled onion, chopped

1 large jalapeño pepper, minced, seeds and all

1½ cups Arborio rice

½ cup dry white wine or dry vermouth

3 ounces hot sopresatta (salami), minced

5 ounces pitted black olives, cut into rings

1 quart boiling hot beef stock

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons light cream

½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley

4 heaping tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Place a 6-quart saucepan on gentle heat and melt butter in olive oil. Add onion and hot pepper. Sauté for five minutes. Add rice, stir for three minutes. Add wine and cook until it evaporates. Add hot salami and olives. Cook another five minutes. Now add hot broth, cup by cup, stirring constantly for eighteen minutes until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Season with salt and pepper. One minute before turning off the heat, add cream and parsley. Stir in well. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with grated cheese and serve immediately.
Piccante!
(Hot stuff!)

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