I spent almost 14 years cooking in the USA and I learnt quite a lot about other cuisines. Unlike some of the regions of Europe, the melting pot of culinary talent in America are not bound by traditions, so they often take ingredients of one area and incorporate them into a classical dish. This wasn’t just American chefs experimenting, it was often driven by French and Italian chefs expressing their new found culinary freedoms.
Risotto is one of my favourite comfort/anytime of the year foods and is so versatile, however, the dish still has some rules to execute a moreish risotto which I will talk about in the chef’s notes section. That said I often incorporate non Italian ingredients into my risottos.
The idea of this dish is the contrast of the smoky sausage and the peppery flavour of the rocket leaves brought together with the saffron.
Ingredients serves 4
500 grams Arborio Rice
1 large Onion finely diced
2 litre Chicken or vegetable stock
0.5 gram Saffron strands *
30 ml Boiling water
120 grams Parmesan cheese (grated)
60 grams Parmesan curls
1 small bag Rocket leaves (washed)
4 Kabanos (smoked garlic sausage) thinly sliced
200 grams Unsalted butter cut into small pieces
1/3 Bottle dry white wine
120 grams (4 oz) Oyster mushrooms – tear into pieces
- Pour 30 ml of boiling water into a tea cup and add the saffron strands,then leave to infuse. This will bring out a deep brilliant colour and flavour of the Saffron.
- Put your chicken or vegetable stock onto a low heat .
- Melt 50 grams of butter in a thick bottomed saucepan adding the diced onion, as soon as the butter has just melted.
- On a medium heat cook the onion until it is translucent but without colour (about 5 minutes), stirring often with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Add your rice and continue to stir the mixture for a further 2-3 minutes to coat the rice with butter.
- Pour in the white wine and cook until the white has been absorbed into the rice, remember to keep stirring so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the saucepan.
- Then add the saffron infusion making sure to swill out the last of the
saffron with a little of the now warm stock.
- Turn the heat down to medium and gradually add the hot stock 1-2 ladles at a time, letting the rice absorb most of the stock before adding more ….and don’t forget to stir.
- After all the stock has been absorbed into the rice (20-25 min) add the sliced kabanos & rocket leaves and turn the heat down to low.
- In a separate pan fry the Oyster mushrooms in 25 grams of butter until golden brown, season them with salt and pepper and then add them to the risotto.
- Then gradually add the remaining unsalted butter a little at a time and make it is all stirred, then the Parmesan cheese. The risotto should be a creamy quite
runny consistency. The rice should be tender but still have a little bite to it (al dente).
Season with sea salt & and a little pepper and spoon into warm pasta bowls, topping each portion with a few Parmesan curls.
Risotto is best served with a salad dressed with extra virgin olive oil & a good quality white wine vinegar. Of course, a glass or 2 of crisp cold white wine will also help tie the elements of the dish together. *Try buying your saffron from your local Asian food store they are usually much cheaper and usually a better quality. There are many different things you can put into risotto, so experiment and find your own favourite combination. Don’t worry if you have left over risotto, it keeps well and can be reheated with a little more stock or water to stop it drying out, then add a little more Parmesan & butter if needed. Sometimes part of the stalks on wild mushrooms can be woody, don’t throw it away, just put it in the stock when you are making it.
- Always use a thick bottomed stainless steel or non-stick saucepan
- If you read my recipe all the way through you have realised how important it is the stir the risotto and control the heat.
- If your risotto has seafood in it you should not finish the dish with Parmesan, butter and or cream. It should instead be “finished” with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and lots of fresh chopped herbs.
Whilst in Washington DC, I was lucky enough to become friends with a couple of the areas best chefs, one of them being Italian Chef Roberto Donna.
I learnt about the joy that is risotto, it is so versatile, so moreish and yet so poorly reproduced by many chef’s in England.
The best know of the risotto type rices is Arborio, then there is also Carnaroli & Vialone Nano and Maratelli which keeps its shape better than other risotto rices. The better the quality of rice the more liquid it absorbs (up to four times)
Here are more of my risotto recipes on the blog
© Kevin Ashton 2001-2019