Monday, April 5, 2010

Allium risotto wth sage

21 November 2008

No, not the purple golfball flowers, lovely or corporate, depending on how and where they are planted...

In short: Allium porrum, Allium sativum, and Allium cepa. In other words, leek, garlic and onion risotto.

If I had made it another night I might not have had my beautifully slender and sweet farmers' market leeks in the fridge, and would have based my recipe on another vegetable.

It's the best one I've made and I'm still trying to get to the bottom of that. I suspect the answer may be in the piping hot stock. Often I cheat and add the liquid cold. Or was it the leeks? I don't know, but here it is.

Butter, about a tablespoonful (I usually cook with olive oil, but the butter is important here)
6 paper thin rashers of pancetta (subs.bacon if you don't have pancetta)
1 cup of finely chopped/shredded leek
1 fat garlic clove, squashed and chopped fine
1/4 onion, finely diced
1/3 cup arborio rice (this is risotto for One)
Healthy slosh (1/4 - 1/2) cup dry white wine
1 cup hot stock, I used a Swiss vegetable bouillon cube
2 whole sage leaves
3 sage leaves, chiffonaded
4 Tbsp half and half or pouring cream
1 squeeze of lemon, no more
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano

To learn the premise of risotto read Marcella Hazan on the subject. All I can tell you is this:

In a pan or pot with sides, melt the butter over medium heat and add the pancetta, cooking till opaque. Add all the allium. Every single one of them. Stir until coated with butter and cook gently without colouring for about 4 minutes till softer. Add the two sage leaves. Add the rice, stir to coat until glistening and keep stirring to toast it (and pay attention: don't turn your back on it, not like I just did with tonight's apples and leeks for a pork chop - burned to a cinder).

After the rice has turned an opaque, chalky white, add the wine, which will sizzle and make a lot of steam, and keep stirring until absorbed. You may want to turn the heat up a bit. Once it has been absorbed, add gulps of hot stock, and stir between each addition. Don't just make soup and wait for it to be absorbed - the stirring is what produces the creamy texture. And you may need a little less, or a little more stock...

After about ten minutes of this I start to nibble rice grains to see how done they are. You do not want mush. They must be firm, but not crunchy. When you sense it is all coming together, add the cream and stir. Taste. Add the squeeze of lemon and stir. Taste.

Add the cheese moments before you eat it and stir again. It will turn creamy. Turn into a warmed bowl, sprinkle on your reserved, chiffonaded bits of sage and eat, at once.

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