This is a post dealing with a little - mmhh, bad conscience. Let me explain why. Due to timing reasons I originally did not intend to take part in the latest EBBP edition (kindly hosted by fellow Austrian but London-based Johanna, thepassionatecook) but somehow she convinced me ;-) However, the deadline was not too long ahead any more and I was in a hurry, so I prepared the cardboard box, stored some Panforte Senese cookies in it - and took it right to the Naschmarkt (the famous market in the centre of Vienna). There I rushed into one of my favourite shops ("Pöhl", see pic above) and explained what I had in mind with that very parcel. Of course the two salesclerks got curious and thus I told them about foodblogging and our EBBP event. And how enticing the idea was that the parcel was to be sent to.... well, let's call it one Europe's culinary hotspots. According to Johanna's theme "comfort food" I had chosen "Risotto milanese" - so the two clerks and myself had a rather interesting shop talk while choosing a very special risotto rice (not the one from Piemonte which I originally intended to take, but a vialone nano from Veneto), saffron from Persia, a piece of parmigiano and salame which can also be used in the risotto. And, for the sweet side of life, an apple-cinnemon chocolate (doesn't this fit perfectly to the name of my blog ;-) ?) made by Zotter, who has already got quite famous within the foodblogging communtiy (for example, check here). The kind sales assistents got so enthusiastic about the idea of sending this package to a foodie person that at the end they took the whole packet - and wrapped and arranged every single ingredient nicely in it. Before sealing the box (they even insisted on doing that for me !) they handed over a sort of business card (a little advertising never fails ;-) to me on which I handwrote another personal message, in additon to the letter I had already prepared in advance. And up, up and away the parcel was....making use of the post office right opposite of the market place.
However, that's the story about my parcel, and I am sorry that maybe its contents and the styling do not show such a "personal touch", the way I would have prepared it without being under such time pressure. At least now the addressee knows the rather unusual way (but nevertheless with lots of enthusiasm involved, right ?) it was put together. And since I did not enclose the recipe for the risotto itself, here it is....
Risotto - and the way it is prepared - truly is a piece of (Italian culinary) art. Or at least this it what it is supposed to be. I absolutely agree with Johanna that it's hard to get any authentic risotto at least outside of Italy. I again have to state that my knowledge of how it has to be prepared to be as authentic as possible goes back to one of my most honoured sources - the Meuth-Duttenhofer couple. They can be considered as real experts regarding Italian cuisine in general - and the way how to cook risotto in particular. And as for the risotto rice itself - well, I have tried many different species, some more and some less to my satisfaction. So not surprisingly I got curious about the rice I purchased for the EBBP parcel (see above) and had to get another packet for myself. When I made the risotto milanese last Saturday I was absolutely hooked - the best risotto rice ever, fine-grained and of perfect texture, allowing you to get a really authentic result. I never again want to use any other. This now is MY risotto rice *), and I am happy that this is the one I have sent to .... (no sign yet ?!?), and here is what to do with it...
For serving 2 (main dishes) or 3-4 (primi) you need:
- 6 handful of risotto rice *) I took Riso Vialone Nano by "Antica Riseria FERRON", 37063 Isola della Scala (VR - Verona), Italy
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3 shallots, finely diced
- 2 dashes of prosecco or dry white wine
- saffron - how much you can hold between two fingers, dissolved in a small cup of hot stock
- approx. 750 ml good quality chicken stock (preferably home made)
- 4 handful of grated parmesan
- optionally: approx. 100 g Italian salame, finely diced; or: the crumbled and fried meat of an Italian salsiccia (soft type of sausage which usually is used to be cooked for the traditional "Bollito misto" - mixed meat pot)
- In one pot bring to the boil the chicken stock, reduce the heat but make sure that the stock keeps boiling (it's essential that the risotto does not cool down whenever you add some stock).
- Take another (not too small) pot. Melt 1 tbsp butter in it and add the shallots. Cook until the shallots are softened.
- Add the rice. Stir and make sure that every rice grain is coated by butter.
- Now pour in the prosecco/white wine to deglaze. Continue stirring at medium heat until the liquid has been absorbed.
- Pour in a ladle full of piping hot stock. Continue stirring until the liquid has been absorbed and in the very moment the rice starts getting dry immeditately add the next ladle full of stock and so on. The risotto should steadily be bubbling gently.
- After 10 minutes add the saffron which you have dissolved in a small cup of hot stock. Within seconds the risotto turns brightly yellow.
- At the end of the cooking process (15 - 20 minutes after the rice started to cook) the risotto should have a creamy texture - but still be "al dente". It should never be overcooked and also not too dry - rather like a very thick soup (it still thickens after cooking). The Italians want to have it "all'onda" (which means wave-like), so when you pour the risotto into a deep dish there should occur a wave...
- Turn off the heat, add the parmesan cheese and the remaining 1 tbsp butter and continue stirring thoroughly for another two minutes. This is to evenly disperse the rice starch which has dropped to the bottom of the pot. Optionally add the finely diced (fried) sausage (see note). At this point it might also be necessary to add a little more stock to attain the desired texture (see no. 7)
- I know that this is definitely not state of the art, but what I do at this point is to cover the pot with a lid and leave to rest the risotto for 5 minutes. Now serve immediately.
Note:The saffron-infused Risotto milanese is the one and only risotto which is served as a side dish (accompanying the famous Osso Buco); but with the sausage you can perfectly eat it as a primo - or even main dish. Not necessarily you need to top it with a tiny leaf of gold, as they are said to do in Milano....
Buon appetito !
P.S: Writer's update on Jan. 24th: I am glad that the box arrived safely and according to her kind post dated yesterday MEG in Paris (Too many Chefs) seems to enjoy the goodies....